Emefiele: How DSS Quizzed 27 Bank CEOs Over Forex Fraud

Emefiele: How DSS Quizzed 27 Bank CEOs Over Forex Fraud
Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor

There is no respite yet for the embattled Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, in his battle of wits against the Department of State Services as the Agency on Thursday submitted more damning evidence against the apex bank’s boss, over series of fresh allegations, to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The “cast iron”, evidence against Emefiele, First News gathered, is contained in a security report the DSS Director General, Yusuf Bichi, handed over to President Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa earlier on Thursday.

The submission of the security report, First News gathered, necessitated Emefiele’s visit for the second time on Thursday to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa. The CBN Gov, it was learnt, was summoned by President Buhari following his receipt of the DSS security report on the fresh allegations and “overwhelming evidence” against the apex bank’s boss.

Emefiele had earlier on Thursday visited the Presidential Villa as part of the delegation of the Arab Bank for Economic Development led by its Director General, Dr Sidi Ould Tah.

Emefiele’s second meeting with President Buhari was, however, held behind closed doors, where it was learnt the CBN Gov was confronted with the fresh allegations leveled against him by the DSS. At the end of his closed door meeting with President Buhari, Emefiele declined to comment on the issues discussed when approached by State House correspondents.

This was just as Emefiele, on Wednesday night, directed all the DSS operatives detailed to provide security for him to withdraw and “return to base.”

Emefiele’s disengagement of the DSS operatives followed the deployment of heavily armed soldiers and military intelligence operatives allegedly by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor to take over the security of the apex bank governor and his family members. Irabor, it was alleged got close to N1bn largesse from the CBN Gov for securing him with military police and intelligence personnel from the Defence Headquarters, to prevent his arrest by the DSS.

Also on Wednesday night, Emefiele through a Civil Society Organisation, Forum for Accountability and Good Leadership, obtained a fresh court injunction from a Federal Capital Territory High Court barring the DSS from questioning officials of the CBN and chief executives of 27 commercial banks on Foreign Exchange Allocations from 2017 to date. First News obtained a copy of the court order granted by the Presiding Judge, Justice S.B Belgore. The judge adjourned hearing of the motion on notice on the matter till January 25.

Recall that the DSS had recently accused Emefiele of allegedly aiding and abetting terrorism, insisting that the CBN Gov must be prosecuted for the alleged crimes.

According to the DSS, preliminary investigations revealed Emefiele’s involvement in various acts of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities and economic crimes of national security dimension.

But the embattled CBN boss has continued to employ all means to escape arrest and interrogation by the DSS. He recently delayed his return to Nigeria after a trip abroad. He was also said to have engaged some close associates of President Buhari to help him prevail on the DSS to let him off the hook. The CBN governor is also alleged to have been employing propaganda through organised public protests and demonstrations by CSOs, all in a bid to stop his investigations by the DSS.

A nephew and close confidant of President Buhari, Mamman Daura and Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai are said to be the arrowheads of the highly influential and powerful politicians pressuring the DSS DG, Yusuf Bichi to let go of Emefiele, resulting in the inability of the secret police to interrogate the apex bank boss on the allegations leveled against him.

It was, however, learnt that unknown to the CBN Gov, while he was out of the country, the DSS had interrogated and obtained documentary evidence from his deputies at the apex bank, external auditors to the bank and managing directors of the 27 commercial banks regarding the monumental allegations of corruption and fraud being levelled against him by the secret police regarding forex allocations and other corruption allegations.

It was in the course of these widened investigations that the DSS unearthed 12 fresh allegations against the CBN Gov, First News learnt from reliable sources.

It was gathered that during interrogation, the CBN external auditors, who have been working for the apex bank in the past six years, “gave evidence under caution” and provided documents to back their claim that Emefiele paid them to prepare “doctored audit reports” which the Federal Government has inadvertently been relying upon.

It was also learnt that during investigations, the DSS discovered that the controversial Ways and Means approval requested by the Finance Minister was actually in the region of N23.7trillion as against the N7.3trn presented to the National Assembly.

Some of the new allegations Emefiele is being investigated for by the DSS include the N3.6bn COVID-19 palliative funds given Nigeria by the IMF two years ago to cushion the effects of the pandemic.

Emefiele, it was learnt did not inform the Federal Government about the IMF palliative but only allegedly diverted the money into a private account in China.

The demand for acknowledgement letter by the IMF from the Finance Minister let the cat out of Emefiele’s bag. The CBN Gov was however said to have told the Finance Minister that he invested the money for the country.

The Finance Minister on her part, was said to have demanded for about $700m out of the IMF palliative to enable her Ministry to “offset staff salary.”

The remaining $3billion, it was gathered, is still being kept in a bank in China without the Federal Government being aware of this development.

CBN under Emefiele is also alleged to be running no fewer than 527 private bank accounts with public monies running to several billions stashed in them without the Federal Government being in the know.

The much-vaunted Single Treasury Account (TSA), it was learnt, has been discovered by the DSS to be a phantom device by Emefiele to deceive the Federal Government and all Nigerians. “There’s nothing like TSA account. Only Emefiele knows what he means by this,” a source said.

The CBN Gov is also alleged to have masterminded the creation of two foreign reserve accounts for Nigeria with the second one the Federal Government is not aware of having about $47billion.

The DSS, it was further gathered, while grilling bank chief executives, also unearthed an allegation that the CBN boss directed all commercial banks’ managing directors to give him N30bn each every year as his own “pocket money.” Only a newly established bank (names withheld) allegedly paid Emefiele the least sum of N5bn. The bank MDs involved, it was learnt, have already written statements and provided the DSS with documentary evidence.

Only on Wednesday night, Emefiele through a CSO, approached an Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Belgore to obtain an interim injunction to restrain the DSS from obtaining information from the CBN and the commercial banks regarding forex allocations in the past six years.

But unknown to Emefiele, the DSS, it was learnt, had already obtained a comprehensive list of all those involved in the forex distribution deal, including some highly placed Presidency officials and this is now said to be included in the security report on the CBN boss submitted to President Buhari.

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