Corruption charges leveled against detained central bank chief in Nigeria

Nigerian prosecutors on Tuesday lodged a 20-count indictment against the suspended and detained central bank governor, Godwin Emefiele with one of the charges accusing him of “conferring unlawful advantages,” a government lawyer said on Tuesday.

Initiating one of the most significant overhauls in Africa’s largest economy in over a decade, President Bola Tinubu has commenced an investigation into the central bank during Emefiele’s tenure after his criticism of the bank’s policies, particularly those aimed at bolstering the naira currency, during his inauguration in May.

The specifics of the new charges have not been immediately disclosed. However, legal documents submitted by the Attorney General’s Office in the previous month indicated that Emefiele was facing charges of criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation of funds, among other allegations, all of which carry substantial prison sentences.

Emefiele, who was apprehended on June 10, a day after his suspension by Tinubu, entered a plea of not guilty to a firearm possession charge. Following his plea on July 25, a judge granted him bail, only for him to be promptly re-arrested.

“We have filed a matter with comprehensive charges” and “we are withdrawing the (firearm) case at the Federal High Court in Lagos,” a government lawyer told media.

Emefiele has contested his detention and submitted a bail application. He was not immediately available for comment.

Emefiele implemented a multi-tiered exchange rate strategy to artificially bolster the currency, a move that was regarded by former President Muhammadu Buhari as a point of national pride.

Buhari reappointed Emefiele for a consecutive five-year term in 2019, and Emefiele was originally slated for retirement next year.

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