Alleged Fraud: How Emefiele moved funds to wife — Witness tells Court

An Assistant Manager with Zenith Bank Plc, Mrs. Ifeoma Ogbonnaya, has provided testimony on how Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), transferred funds to his wife, Mrs. Margaret Emefiele.

During a session at the Ikeja Special Offences Court on Tuesday, Ogbonnaya detailed how Emefiele used Zenith Bank to move multimillion-naira amounts to his wife.

Emefiele is currently on trial for abuse of office and alleged fraud involving $4.5 billion and N2.8 billion.

Ogbonnaya, the fifth prosecution witness, was led in evidence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN).

She explained that Emefiele used Zenith Bank to transfer millions of naira in tranches to his wife through various companies, including Amswing Resources and Solution, Limelight Dimensional Service Ltd., Omec Support Service Ltd., and Mango Farm.

“Limelight manages the facilities of CBN located at Alakija, handling all transactions related to power and repairs,” she said.

Ogbonnaya, who also serves as a Business Relationship Manager, joined the bank in 2006. She stated that she never had direct dealings with the ex-CBN governor but received instructions from his wife to transfer cash from CBN into their private companies through Zenith Bank accounts.

Apart from Mrs. Emefiele, Ogbonnaya received instructions from two other individuals, Mr. John Ogah and Mr. Opeyemi Oludimu, who worked for Emefiele but are now deceased. She managed the various companies’ accounts through which the multimillion-naira transfers were made.

“Mrs. Margaret Emefiele, the ex-CBN governor’s wife, is the direct beneficiary of these accounts. She would send transfer instructions directly to my official email address or have others act on her behalf, but I still received approval from her,” Ogbonnaya said.

Ogbonnaya provided details of specific transactions, including cash flows from the apex bank to the accounts between March 9 and 11, 2015, totaling N18.9 million and N1.8 million. Additional transactions included N43 million on February 22, 2021, N37.3 million on July 21, 2022, N44.6 million on October 21, 2022, and N93.1 million on May 10, 2023.

She explained that she communicated with Mrs. Emefiele through email, phone calls, and WhatsApp to confirm transactions before processing them. The bundles of documents detailing these transactions were printed from her office desktop computer and handed over to law enforcement.

“The documents were sent to my email, and when the investigation started, I was asked to print all the documents for the law enforcement agencies, which I did,” Ogbonnaya said.

The prosecution submitted the bundles of documents as evidence, and Emefiele’s counsel, Mr. Olalekan Ojo (SAN), and the second defense counsel, Mr. Kazeem Gbadamosi (SAN), did not object to their admissibility. Consequently, the court admitted the certificate of identification and the bundle of printed documents into evidence.

Ogbonnaya further explained the inflow and outflow of funds purportedly sent from the CBN through Zenith Bank to Emefiele’s wife. The prosecution also requested the court to have Ogbonnaya write down the number she used to communicate with Mrs. Emefiele, which was admitted into evidence despite her difficulty recalling the digits from memory.

Earlier in the proceedings, Justice Rahman Oshodi granted the application filed by the second defense counsel to recall the first prosecution witness, Monday Osazuwa.

The EFCC had arraigned Emefiele on April 8 on 23 counts of abuse of office, accepting gratifications, corrupt demands, receiving property fraudulently obtained, and conferring corrupt advantages. His co-defendant, Henry Omoile-Isioma, was arraigned on three counts of accepting gifts by agents. Both defendants pleaded not guilty.

The judge adjourned the case until July 10 for the continuation of the trial.

NAN


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