From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, trying the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday, admitted in evidence, a document showing the approval of former President Muhammadu Buhari for the re-design of Nigeria’s currency, the naira.

The approval dated October 6, 2022 from the State House, and personally signed by the former President, was conveyed to the former CBN governor, Emefiele, to proceed with the project of redesigning and printing of the currency.

The Chief of Staff to President Buhari was said to have transmitted the written presidential approval to the CBN.

Also tendered and admitted as exhibits were samples of the redesign currency as approved by Buhari.

Emefiele was arraigned before Justice Maryanne Anenih on a four-count charge by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). But, while taking his plea, Emefiele denied the charge and was admitted to bail in the sum of N300 million.

The documents were tendered by the EFCC through its witness and former Director, Currency Operations, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Ahmed Bello Umar.

The witness, who was led in evidence by EFCC’s lead counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN), claimed to have authored some memos in relation to the project.

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He, however, revealed that Emefiele partly departed from the approval of the former president.

Among others, the witness said while the portraits in the samples endorsed by Buhari were on the right side, those printed have the portraits on the left side.

The former director of currency operations at the CBN also claimed that the numbering styles for the currency adopted by Emefiele were different from the modes adopted by CBN under Emefiele. Similarly, the witness said while the approved samples have QR code, those printed did not have the features.

Under cross examination by Mahmoud Magaji, SAN, counsel to Emefiele, the witness admitted that Buhari actually approved the naira redesign project.

He also admitted that Buhari, on December 29, 2023, publicly launched the re-designed naira currency for use by Nigerians as legal tender. The witness also admitted that the re-designed currency has his own signature as Director, Currency Operations, adding that no currency becomes legal tender without his own signature.

In the four-count charge, the anti-graft agency claimed that Emefiele embarked on the naira redesign without the approval of the Board of the CBN as well as then President, Muhammadu Buhari.

Specifically, the EFCC accused Emefiele of approving the printing of various quantities of the new naira notes “without the recommendation of the board of Central Bank and the strict approval of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, which conduct of yours caused injury to the public and you, thereby, committed an offence”.

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