More troubles for Emefiele as ex-CBN director admits collecting $600,000 bribe on his instruction

A former Director of Procurement and Support Services at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr John Ikechukwu Ayoh, says he collected $600,000 bribe on behalf of the former CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.

According to him, the bribe money was allegedly paid by contractors in two installments of $400,000 and $200,000.

At the resumed hearing at Lagos High Court on Monday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) presented Mr Ayoh as the second witness in the case against Mr Emefiele.

Emefiele is facing a 26-count charge at the Lagos High Court for various offences ranging from abuse of office, to bribery, irregular allocation of foreign exchange, among others. The former central bank chief has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

READ ALSO: Polaris, Keystone acquired for free, Emefiele used proxies to buy Union Bank – Investigator

Mr Ayoh, who claimed to have worked with Mr Emefiele between June 2014 and April 2019, said he collected the bribes under pressure, alleging that Mr Emefiele usually sent his personal assistant named John Adetona to collect bribes from contractors on his behalf.

“I did admit in my statement that I was forced to commit the crime. I don’t know the exact word I used in my statement, but I said we were all forced with tremendous pressure to bend the rules,” he said.

Ayoh said that he worked under a former Deputy Governor of CBN, Mr Adebayo Adelabu, who is now the minister of power.

The bribery allegation

Ayoh said he collected $400,000 and $200,000 in cash from contractors on two different occasions and handed them over to Emefiele’s personal assistant, who he always sent on such assignments.

“The first transaction was $400,000 and the second one was $200,000 in cash. I was in my house when the first envelope was brought to me. His assistant was asked to collect the money,” he told the court.

READ ALSO: CBN dismisses bank takeover report as Emefiele dares Obazee

“One of the vendors had a contract with CBN which involved the implementation of data storage and infrastructure.

“The first package was collected in my residence at Lekki Phase 1, while the second package was collected at the head office in Lagos.

“The cash is for gratification to the governor for awarding the contracts. He (Emefiele) asked for it. He won’t approve the contract without gratification,” the witness said.

More worries for Emefiele

Emefiele had been accused in December 2023 of acquiring banks through proxies. Special Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) investigator, Mr Jim Obazee, alleged that the former apex bank governor used proxies to acquire three banks in Nigeria for free, Economy Post had reported.

“Keystone was acquired for free as did Polaris Bank and the special investigator should liaise with the CBN to recover these two banks to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” said a statement in a letter to the president.”

The investigator stated in one of his reports to the president that he “discovered that some persons were used as proxies by Mr Godwin Emefiele to set up Titan Trust Bank (TTB) and acquire Union Bank, all from ill-gotten wealth. We were able to secure some documents, and investigation reports will lead to the forfeiture of the two banks by the federal government.”

READ ALSO: After Economy Post stories, CBN sets up panel to investigate loans to banks’ insiders

In March 2024, an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) witness, Mr Bamaiyi Meriga, had informed the court that the document used to request payment of $6.2 million to foreign election observers were forged.

He also said the signatures in the documents were neither those of former President Muhammadu Buhari nor ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha’s, Channels TV reported.

Mr Mustapha had earlier told the Federal Capital Territory High Court Abuja that former President Muhammadu Buhari did not approve $6.3 million as payment for election observers.

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