Former Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said on Tuesday that $6.2m was released from the Central Bank of Nigeria in February 2023 using a forged document.
Mustapha stated this when he appeared as the fourth prosecution witness in the ongoing fraud trial of the immediate-past CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, before the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had alleged that on February 8, 2023, Emefiele connived with one Odoh Ocheme, who is now on the run, to obtain $6.2m from the CBN, claiming that it was requested by the SGF “vide a letter dated 26th January 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/.
The anti-graft agency also alleged that Emefiele, in January 2023, forged a document titled: “RE: PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE ON FOREIGN ELECTION OBSERVER MISSIONS,” dated 26 January 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), on Tuesday, Mustapha noted that neither the documents came from the president nor his office.
He also denied receiving any amount from the said money.
Mustapha said, “All through my service year as the SGF, I never came across these documents it was claimed that Buhari signed. From the face value of this document, having served for five years and seven months as SGF, this document did not emanate from the president for the following reasons.
“A correspondence that has the seal of the Nigerian president does not carry a reference number. The seal is the authority.
“Secondly, I have looked at it and read, that FEC decisions are not transmitted by letters. They are transmitted through extracts after conclusions are adopted.
“Thirdly, I am the custodian of FEC, the president will not refer executives’ conclusions to me.
“Also, in all the five years and seven months, I have never heard of the terms special appropriation provision referred to. The terms known to me, my lord, are appropriation as provided by the appropriation act normally passed by the national assembly and when the government file drafts it brings supplementary appropriation.
“In all the correspondences I have received from Buhari, it has never had ‘please accept the assurance of my highest regard’. I am his subordinate, my correspondences do not carry that.
And lastly, looking at the signature, it is a failed attempt at reproducing Buhari’s signature. I will leave that to the experts.”
Mustapha also told the court that the Federal Government had no business with foreign election observers.
He said, “Nigerian government has no business with foreign election observers. I have managed two election cycles and I know that for a fact. INEC has the sole responsibility for that.”
Mustapha pointed out that the approval for the fund was never on the agenda of
the Federal Executive Council held on January 18, 2023, and could not have been approved.
He said, “My lord, there was a meeting on Jan 18. The Vice President presided over the meeting. My role as secretary was to prepare the agenda of the meeting and on that, there was a 16-point agenda. There was no agenda for payment to foreign election observers. Consequently, if it was not an item on the agenda, it can’t be discussed and it will not appear in the conclusion of the meeting of January 18. There was no such approval, conclusion, or transmission for the payment of the money.”
Oyedepo asked him to confirm if the letter conveying the presidential directives for the approval of the money emanated from him, Mustapha responded in the negative.
He also said Abubakar Jubril who was said to have received the money in cash was never a staff of his office.
Mustapha said, “To the best of my knowledge, this letter did not emanate from the OSGF. I did not sign it. My lord, I said it didn’t emanate from me for the following reasons: I am not privy to the operations of the Central Bank. The heading is defective, it presupposes, that there was a previous correspondence before you will say RE. I am not aware of the content of this letter. There was no FEC approval. Thirdly, there were references where I was said to have introduced a principal officer, I am not aware special task force on logistics set up by government.
“I do not know Jubril Abubakar a principal officer I who was alleged to be the coordinator of this task force. I didn’t introduce Jubril. The letter does not conform to the standard with which we write our letters at the OSGF. The reference number is always very clear so you will know the department the letter is from. We paragraph our letter and number them. I can only end my letter with please accept my assurances if I am writing to a superior officer. I could not have written to the governor of the CBN using that word. I also wouldn’t have addressed him as Dear Sir. ”
Oyedepo further asked if the 6.2m dollars paid to one Jubril Abubakar was to his office and if he received a dime from the money.
“Not one dollar was brought to my office. Not the amount and no part of it was brought to me.”
During cross-examination, the counsel for the defendant, Mathew Bukkaar, (SAN) asked if there was any memo to make payments to any government agency.
Mustapha said, “No my lord, if it is related to this transaction. There could have been others but not this.”
Emefiele’s counsel then asked if it was a practice in the OSGF to send staff to any bank to receive cash for whatever purpose.
Responding, the former SGF denied that was a practice in his office.
He said, “It is not a usual practice. I have six permanent secretaries if there is a need. They would have done that. ”
Earlier, during cross-examination, Ogbu Michael, a Deputy Director at the CBN who was formerly a Branch Controller at the time, told the court that he authorized the payment of the $6.2m after the approval from the banking services department.
He said the money was paid in cash and was expected to be refunded in the second quarter of 2023.
When asked by Burkaa if he authenticated the Identity card used for the payment of the money, Ogbu said, “I went by the payment instruction and did not go beyond the identity card attached to the document. The money was paid in USD cash to Jubril. ”
Bukaar further asked if the identity card presented was either National ID, Driver’s license, International Passport or Voter’s Card, Ogbu stated that none of the identity card was attached to the document.
He said, “The instructions was to pay with the ID indicated.”
Burkaa asked if Ogbu was aware the former SGF, Buhari, and the CBN Deputy governor were standing trial on the matter, he said he was not aware.
The trial judge, Justice Hamza Muazu adjourned the matter till March 7, 11, and 25 for continuation of trial.
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