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Court documents show how ‘$6.2m stolen from CBN’ was shared, invested into real estate

Documents have shown how the $6,230,000 cash allegedly stolen from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on February 8, 2023, was shared.

President Bola Tinubu had set up a special investigative team, led by Jim Obaze, to probe the tenure of Godwin Emefiele, former CBN governor.

The team had claimed that $6.2 million was removed from the apex bank’s vault under the guise of paying election observers.

Emefiele is standing trial on a 20-count amended criminal charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The amended charges border on alleged criminal breach of trust, forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery, procurement fraud and conspiracy to commit a felony.

According to the amended charge marked CR/577/2023, Emefiele, on February 8, 2023, connived with Odoh Ocheme, who is now on the run, to obtain $6.2 million from the CBN, claiming that the SGF requested it “vide a letter dated 26th January 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201″.

In the court documents, investigators characterised the crime as an insider job primarily carried out by CBN staff members with the cooperation of two outsiders known as Adamu Abubakar and Imam Abubakar.

Investigators claimed that Odoh Eric Ocheme, Emefiele’s personal assistant, received $3,730,000 of the funds, with three other people splitting the remaining $2,500,000.

Ocheme was said to have justified his lion’s share by claiming he had to pay other interests he had within the apex bank.

Some of the beneficiaries were said to have invested their shares of the loot, estimated at N1.4 billion, in real estate, part of which has now been recovered.

Some of the details of the investigation are contained in an affidavit filed alongside an extradition charge pending against Adamu Abubakar, Imam Abubakar and Odoh Eric Ocheme before the Abuja federal high court.

Adamu Abubakar, Imam Abubakar and Ocheme are said to be at large and are believed to have fled the country, hence, the extradition proceedings.

In the affidavits, one of the investigators, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), said the team obtained copies of the withdrawal slip as well as the accompanying documents, CBN memos, dated 07/02/2023 and 31/01/2023 respectively.

They also obtained “a letter dated 2/01/2023 purportedly written by Muhammadu Buhari to Boss Mustapha and a letter dated 20/01/2023 purportedly written by Boss Mustapha to Mr Godwin Emafiele, which the Central Bank of Nigeria, Abuja Branch relied on in making the payment”.

The DSP said investigations revealed that both letters were forged and did not emanate from the office of the then president and SGF. At the same time, Jibril Abubakar, whose identity card was used to cash the money in question, was not a staff of the SGF office.

HOW COLLABORATORS INVESTED ‘STOLEN FUND’ IN REAL ESTATE

“We watched the Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) footages of the 08/02/2023 being the day the money in question was cashed, and the payee (Jibril Abubakar) could not be identified by the staff of either the CBN or that of the office of the secretary to the government of the federation, where he falsely represented himself to be working,” the document read

“A further study of the Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) footage revealed that a staff of the Abuja Branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria, identified as Abdulmajeed Muhammad received the impostor (Jibril Abubakar) at the gate of the bank when he arrived on the fateful date: 08/02/2023.

“Abdulmajeed Muhammad was consequently arrested and in his statement made on 15/12/2023, he admitted helping the impostor into the Abuja Branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria, but claimed that he did that innocently, the impostor having been referred to him by Bashirudeen Maishanu; a Senior Staff of the CBN.

“Abdulmajeed Muhammad further revealed that prior to 08/02/2023 when the impostor came to cash the money in question, he (Abdulmajeed Muhammad) had been invited by Bashirudeen Maishanu to explain the procedure of public officials making cash withdrawal from the CBN as those persons claimed to be officials from the office of the SGF and that the then president had approved certain fund for official assignment.

“We visited Kuje Correctional Centre, where we interviewed Godwin Emefiele, who purportedly approved the memos authorising the payment, as then CBN and he denied seeing, talk less of approving such memos.

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