Emefiele’s Naira Redesign Was Unauthorized, Says Former CBN Director

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In the ongoing trial of former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele, a former Director of Operations at the bank, Ahmed Umar, testified on Tuesday that the naira redesign initiated by Emefiele in late 2022 did not have the necessary approval from the Committee of Governors.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Emefiele on May 15 before Justice Maryanne Anenih of the Federal Capital Territory High Court. He faces charges related to the alleged unauthorized redesign and printing of new naira notes.

According to the charge sheet CR/264/2024, the EFCC contends that Emefiele implemented the naira redesign policy without the endorsement of the CBN Board and former President Muhammadu Buhari. The commission alleges that Emefiele spent N18.96 billion on the printing and swapping of new naira notes valued at N684.5 million without proper authorization.

The EFCC claims Emefiele violated Section 19 of the CBN Act, 2007, by approving the printing of 375,520,000 pieces of color-swapped N1,000 notes at a cost of N11,052,068,062 without the board’s recommendation and presidential approval.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, Umar, who retired from the CBN in July 2023 after 35 years of service, testified that his department was instructed to draft a memo on the naira redesign in August 2022. He said the memo was reviewed by the Committee of Governors on October 26, 2022, but it was not approved.

“The management of CBN directed my department to come up with a memo on the design of the naira note sometime in August 2022,” Umar stated. He explained that while some aspects of the proposal were modified, key items were not approved by the committee, which included the CBN Governor and four deputy governors.

Umar clarified that the proper procedure required the CBN Board of Directors to recommend the redesign to the President, who would then approve the currency’s design before production commenced. The court admitted a Certified True Copy of the memorandum from the Operations Department as Exhibit A.

The EFCC also accused Emefiele of spending N4.4 billion to print color-swapped N500 notes and N3.4 billion to print 137,070 pieces of color-swapped N200 notes. These actions allegedly took place between October 2022 and March 2023, violating Section 19 of the CBN Act.

Additionally, Emefiele is accused of unlawfully approving the withdrawal of N124.8 billion from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation. He has denied all charges and pleaded not guilty.

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