Former Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele has said the Naira redesign programme was approved by former President Mohammadu Buhari.
Emefiele stated this in response to the publication of the report of the Private Investigator into the affairs of the CBN, Mr. Jim Obazee, which claimed that there was no presidential approval for the Naira redesign programme.
This is coming as Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, at the weekend denied involvement in the alleged withdrawal of over $6 million from the CBN.
In a statement titled, “Re; Emefiele, other stole billions, illegally kept Nigeria’s funds in foreign banks”, former CBN Governor, said that the presidential approval for the Naira redesign programme was handed to Obazee in front of senior CBN officials and members of the Private Investigator’s team.
Emefiele also averred that most of the content of the report of the special investigator cited in the media publications are false, misleading and calculated to disparage his person, injure his character and to serve the selfish interest of the private investigator.
Emefiele said: “After my release on bail from the correctional centre, Kuje, my attention was drawn to publications released by the Punch Newspaper and Premium Times online news platforms.
“The sources of the information published by both media houses were credited to a certain report prepared by Mr. Jim Obazee, who was appointed by the President as a private investigator.
“I have gone through the publications, and I say boldly that the contents of the said publications are false, misleading and calculated to disparage my person, injure my character and to serve the selfish interest of the private investigator.
“Because of my present situation, I have been advised by my lawyers not to say anything in respect of the matters which have been submitted to the court for adjudication. However, I need to address some of the issues raised in the publication, which are barefaced lies told by the investigator in order to achieve his satanic agenda.
“First, it was reported that, contrary to the provision of the CBN Act 2007, there was no presidential approval for the Naira redesign. I wish to state unequivocally that there was indeed a presidential approval, and the said approval was handed over to the same Jim Obazee during the process of his investigation in the presence of senior CBN officials and his own investigative team.
“Moreover, the former President Muhammadu Buhari has stated on a number of occasions that he authorised and approved the Naira redesign. I am therefore at a loss as to why Mr. Jim Obazee will mislead Nigerians that there was no presidential approval.
“The report also claimed that the sum of $6.23 million was withdrawn from the CBN vault based on a false presidential directive bearing the signature of the former President Buhari and that of the former secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.
“About two weeks ago, Jim Obazee in company of a certain Deputy Commissioner of Police from Force CID came to Kuje to ask me questions in respect of the said document in the presence of my lawyers.
“I stated verbally and in writing that I have no knowledge of such directive from the former president and the former SGF. In fact, I told them that was the first time I would be seeing the documents. On this, I challenge Jim Obazee to publish the said documents and also the statements that I made to them.
“The final issue that I will like to respond to is the issue of the 593 accounts which were purportedly opened in different parts of the world. I state categorically that I am not involved in the opening of these accounts and I do not have knowledge of their openings. The fixed deposits in those foreign accounts are definitely outside my knowledge.
“However, let me state clearly, that the relevant departments of the CBN have the authority to carry out such activities in line with their lawful mandate within the CBN.
“I therefore join well-meaning Nigerians who have spoken on this matter and have demanded a thorough and transparent investigation of all these alleged frauds. Meanwhile, I have instructed my lawyers to immediately commence legal process to clear my name from the defamatory statements contained in the report and by extension the publications.”
Also reacting to the report, Mustapha in a statement, said: “I have no knowledge of such a directive, nor was I ever involved in any discussions or transactions regarding the alleged payment to foreign election observers,” he said.
Describing the report as a malicious ploy to damage his reputation, he said: “It claims that $6.3 million was withdrawn from the CBN vaults based on a purported ‘Presidential Directive’ bearing the signature of President Buhari. This document, unsurprisingly, has not been presented for public scrutiny.
“I demand a thorough and transparent investigation into this matter. Let the relevant authorities probe the source of these fabricated documents and expose those responsible for this malicious attempt to damage my reputation.
“I have nothing to hide and welcome any legitimate investigation that sheds light on the truth. Throughout my career in public service, I have always upheld the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct. I have served with dedication and transparency, and my record speaks for itself.
“I will not allow this baseless and defamatory attack to go unchallenged. I will defend my reputation vigorously and ensure that the truth prevails.
“This is not just about me, it is about upholding the integrity of public service and safeguarding the reputation of those who have served this country with honour.
“I trust that the Nigerian people will see through this orchestrated attack and recognise it for what it truly is, a desperate attempt to silence a voice of reason and integrity,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Deputy Governor of CBN, Mr. Kingsley Moghalu, has denounced what he described as the media trial of Emefiele and other persons cited in the special investigator report.
Moghalu in a statement said that the leakage and circulation of the report of the special investigator, not how a report into the CBN should be handled.
Moghalu said: “I have seen in the mainstream media and floating around on social media including Whatsapp, a report purported to be that of the CBN Special Investigator appointed by President Tinubu. I have some comments on this development.
“The “report” has no signature appended, so we can’t assume it is the real and official report.
“Assuming it is in fact the real report, it’s wrong for such a sensitive report to have “leaked” to the public before the President and his government have reviewed and spoken to it.
“This is because the “report” talks of “chargeable offenses” and mentions specific individuals it recommends being prosecuted in addition to Emefiele. This is a media trial and prejudices the rights of these individuals named or referred to. This is NOT how a report into the Central Bank of Nigeria should be handled.
“The central bank of any country is a very sensitive institution, and confidence (or the lack of it) in the institution has practical consequences on the ground for Nigeria’s economy.
“As much as the Bank and its leaders ought to be accountable for their official actions, we must consider the continuing damage this kind of sensationalism (which, knowing our country, nothing much is likely to come of it at the end of the day) does to Nigeria’s economy, image, and the institution of the CBN itself. When it comes to law, allegations are simply allegations unless and until proven in a court of law.”