Nigeria’s former Central Bank boss denies fresh corruption charges

abuja, nigeria — Nigeria’s former central bank governor on Monday pleaded not guilty to fresh charges brought against him by the country’s anti-corruption body,

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, or EFCC, last week filed 26 charges accusing Godwin Emefiele of corrupt practices and misuse of authority while in office. Emefiele appeared before the Lagos State High Court on Monday with a co-defendant, Henry Omoile.

In its suit filed April 3, the EFCC said Emefiele violated Nigeria’s corrupt practices act by receiving bribes and gifts and acquiring property through fraud.

The EFCC also accused Emefiele of arbitrarily allocating $2 billion dollars in foreign exchange without bids or due process and conferring undue advantage to his associates.

Emefiele and Omoile both pleaded not guilty to the charges. But the court remanded Emefiele into custody until Thursday, when a verdict on his bail application is expected.

Emefiele’s legal counsel was not immediately available to comment on the new charges.

But public affairs analyst Chris Kwaja said, “On the strength of the allegations, if he’s found wanting them, he’ll face justice as required by the laws of the land. For every individual that has been given the mandate to occupy public office, that mandate is a product of trust. This case represents that. The only thing for me is that in pursuit of accountability, the Nigerian state must be conscious of the right of every individual.”

Former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Emefiele as CBN governor in 2014, and he served until last year. He was arrested in June, days after President Bola Tinubu took office.

Last year, the former Central Bank governor faced charges in another court in  Abuja, for illegally awarding contracts and violating Nigeria’s procurement laws — charges that he denied.

Eze Onyekpere, founder of the Center for Social Justice, wondered whether the government was looking for a scapegoat.

“I’m getting a bit worried, because we’ve seen this happen before in previous administrations,” Onyekpere said. “Let it not appear to be looking for a fall guy,  somebody that could easily be shaken off … and trying to provide excuses for their inability to manage the economy very well. It’s beginning to look a little bit not based on empirical legal evidence.”

Emefiele withdrew from a possible presidential bid in 2022.

Last July, Tinubu hired a special investigator to scrutinize the operations of the Central Bank under Emefiele. On Friday, the investigator said his work was complete, but his report has not been released.

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