Buhari’s nephew gave Emefiele approval to redesign naira notes – CBN investigator

Muhammadu Buhari

Former President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew Tunde Sabiu approved the redesign of the naira, special investigator on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Related Entities Jim Obazee has said.

Mr Obazee stated this in his final report submitted to President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday, suggesting some of the alleged offences were chargeable.

Tinubu appointed Obazee to probe the CBN after suspending Godwin Emefiele from his job as governor of the apex bank in June.

The investigator said he found that Buhari didn’t approve of the naira redesign, rather Mr Sabiu first told Emefiele in September 2022 to consider the redesign of the naira.

“On October 6, 2022, Emefiele wrote to Buhari that he wanted to redesign and reconfigure the N1000, N500, and N200 notes.

“The former president tagged along but did not approve the redesign as required by law. Buhari merely approved that the currency be printed in Nigeria. The redesign was only mentioned to the board of the CBN on December 15, 2022, after Emefiele had awarded the contract to Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc on October 31, 2022,” the documents obtained by PUNCH read.

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Emefiele was said to have contracted the redesign of the naira to De La Rue of the UK for £205,000 under the vote of the head of the Currency Operations Department after Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc said it could not deliver the contract within a short timeframe.

The report said, “The special investigator found that N61.5bn was earmarked for the printing of the new notes, out of which N31.79bn had been paid. As of August 9, 2023, findings revealed that N769bn of the new notes were in circulation.

“The probe of the CBN also revealed the fraudulent use of N26.627tn Ways and Means of the Apex Bank as well as the misuse of the COVID-19 intervention fund.

“For instance, the CBN under Emefiele at its 661st meeting held on October 27, 2020, approved that the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account should be debited with the sum of N124.860bn, and the decision was implemented on October 9.

“Similarly, the Committee of Governors, at its 670th meeting held on December 9, 2020, granted ‘anticipatory approval’ pending receipt of a formal request by Mr President and ratification by the board of directors for the payment of the sum of N250bn only to the Federal Government of Nigeria to address challenges as a result of low revenue inflow and the payment of salaries. The decision was implemented on December 15, 2020.”

Emefiele is in Kuje Custodial Centre in Abuja. He is being prosecuted for alleged N1.2 billion procurement fraud and has been unable to meet the N300 million bail granted him by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on November 22, 2023.