Former President, Muhammadu Buhari and his Secretary to Government of Federation(SGF), Boss Mustapha have disowned former Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele in Court.
Boss Mustapha on Tuesday told the Federal Capital Territory High Court that his principal, former president Muhammadu Buhari, never approved USD6,230,000 as payment for election observers as claimed by Emefiele and his lawyer
Mustapha appeared as second prosecution witness on Tuesday against Emefiele, who is facing a 20-count charge bordering on alleged corrupt practices and forgery instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mustapha said as a lawyer, he had the principal responsibility of coordinating government activities and also served as Secretary to the Federal Executive Council, Secretary to the Security Council and other bodies of which the president is the chair.
Recall that EFCC’s first prosecution witness, Ogbu Onyeka Michael, a Deputy Director at CBN, had said that all requests for payments are usually addressed to his office, and at a particular time, the request for payment of USD6,230,000 was received from the Banking Services Department of the CBN.
According to him, the memo for the payment was for international election observers.
But Mustapha told Justice Hamza Muazu that he did not know anything about “this transaction” and that all through his service year as SGF till May 29, 2023, he never came across a presidential directive or memo from Buhari regarding the money.
When he was shown a document that supposedly emanated from the then president, Mustapha said on its face value, the document did not emanate from the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the following reasons.
“A correspondence that has the seal of the president does not carry a reference number; Federal Executive Council decisions are not transmitted by letters but through extracts after conclusions are adopted,thirdly, I am the custodian of the record of the FEC so the president will not be referring to me; fourth, there is no term called Special Appropriation Provisions; the two terms are Appropriation and Supplementary Appropriation; five, correspondence from president Buhari never ends of ‘please accept assurance of the highest regard, lastly, Nigerian government has no business with foreign election observers,” he added.
He continued that while he would allow experts to authenticate the document, there was a failed attempt to forge president Buhari’s signature on the said document.
He added that during the FEC meeting of January 18, 2024, which was not the 187th meeting of FEC, there was no agenda that had to do with payment of foreign election observers as the agenda was always prepared by him.
“There was no such approval from the president,” Mustapha insisted.
When Mustapha was shown another letter that supposedly emanated from the office of the SGF to the CBN (Ex6) regarding the transaction, he said the letter did not emanate from his office and he did not sign it.
He explained that he was not privy to the operations of the CBN and as such, he could not have written to its Director, Banking Services as he does not know about CBN operations.
Mustapha added that letters from the SGF are numbered paragraph by paragraph unlike the one purported to have been written by him.
He explained that administratively, he would not have addressed Emefiele as ‘Dear Sir’, as he was not his senior in official ranking.
He said the money in contention was not brought to his attention, “not one dollar.”
Under cross-examination by Matthew Burkaa, Emefiele’s lawyer, Mustapha said he would love to see persons involved in forgery of documents convicted.
He further denied knowing one Jibril Abubakar alleged to have come from the office of the SGF to collect the money in dispute.
“Jibril is not my staff and never worked in SGF,” the ex-SGF said, adding that Jibril should answer for his acts.
He said he was not aware of the CBN office in Garki making enquiries about the identity of Jibril.
Mustapha also denied media reports which stated he was dragging the money in dispute with Emefiele , adding he did not receive such money.
The former SGF said he was forced to issue a rebuttal after the Special Investigative Panel released its report to the media.
He insisted there was no memo from former President Buhari to him in respect of the transaction and that it was not the practice for the office of SGF to send its staff to collect money from CBN for whatever purpose.
After his testimony, the court adjourned the hearing to 7,11, March, 2024.
Again, Emefiele’s lawyer, Burkaa urged the court to call the EFCC media unit to order on how they report the proceedings with sensational headlines on its X page.
EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo told the court he would look into it.
DAILY GIST recalls that Emefiele was re-arraigned on the amended 20 counts and he pleaded not guilty to the charges read to him.
Part of the charge reads, “That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, male, adult, sometime in March 2020 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did use your position as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to confer a corrupt advantage on your wife, Omoile Margret, and brother-in-law Omoile Macombo by awarding a contract for the external renovation of the CBN Governor’s Residence lying, being and situate at No. 2 Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos in the sum of 99,826,452.47 to Messrs. Architekon Nigeria Limited, a company wherein the duo are directors and majority shareholders and you thereby committed an offence.”
Earlier in the proceedings, Ogbu said the payments followed a request letter from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, addressed to the CBN governor conveying presidential approval for the disbursement.
Ogbu said he does not know if the CBN governor can jump the deputy governor (operations)and write to the Director, Banking Services.
The witness added that in his 33 years with the CBN since 1990, payments were made to stakeholders including INEC, prior to general elections.