• Emefiele ignored Buhari’s approved naira redesigned, printed his — Witness

    Emefiele ignored buharis approved naira redesigned printed his witness - nigeria newspapers online
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    A witness at the ongoing trial of former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday told the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja that there were deviations in the Naira redesign project.

    Former Director of Currency Operations at the CBN, Ahmed Umar, told the court that the currency notes minted were different from the design approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

    Led by prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Umar explained that President Buhari’s approved design included specific features such as a QR code and the portrait positioned on the right.

    However, the notes implemented under Emefiele’s direction did not include these elements and featured a different numbering style.

    However, said the president’s approval was for the redesign of naira notes to be locally produced .

    Under cross examination by Mahmoud Magaji SAN, counsel to Emefiele, the witness admitted that former President Buhari actually gave approval to the naira redesign project.

    He also admitted that former President Buhari on December 29, 2023 publicly launched the re-designed naira currency for the use of Nigerians as legal tender.

    The witness also admitted that the re-designed currency has his own signature as Director of Currency Operations adding that no currency becomes legal tender without his own signature.

    Another witness , the Managing director of the Nigerian security printing and minting company PLC, Ahmed Halilu revealed that in October 2022, the then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) informed him of presidential approval for the redesign of the N100, N200, and N500 notes, emphasising the necessity of local production to align with domestic capabilities.

    He said during a meeting at the CBN Governor’s office, Halilu was given a preliminary paper design of the new notes. He suggested that his team review the design and return with a proposal, highlighting significant changes needed at the substrate and printing levels, such as the numbering system, QR codes, and watermark positioning.

    Halilu and his team recommended the involvement of De La Rue, a UK-based company and the original designer of Nigeria’s currency..

    He said De La Rue’s engagement was crucial due to the complex security features required to prevent counterfeiting, including QR codes for youth engagement and enhanced watermarking.

    He said the redesigned notes by De La Rue lacked the QR codes initially proposed. After De La Rue completed the redesign, the samples were submitted to the CBN Governor for approval, which was granted on October 19, 2022. The approved notes were later produced and admitted as Exhibit F and H in court.

    Halilu disclosed that De La Rue was paid £205,000 by the CBN for their services, but he said did not see the approval for payment of the president.

    The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on May 15, arraigned Emefiele on a four count charge before Justice Maryanne Anenih of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting in Maitama, Abuja.

    Emefiele however denied the charge and was admitted to bail in the sum of N300 million naira.

    In the four count charge, the anti-graft agency claimed that Emefiele embarked on the naira redesign without the approval of the Board of the CBN as well as then President, Muhammadu Buhari.

    Specifically, the EFCC accused Emefiele of approving the printing of various quantities of the new Naira notes “without the recommendation of the Board of Central Bank and the strict approval of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria which conduct of yours caused injury to the public and you thereby committed an offence”.

    While in count one he was accused of approving the printing of 375,520,000 notes at the cost of N11 billion, in count two he was accused of approving the printing of 172 million coloured swapped N500 notes at the cost of N4.4 billion.

    Also in count three, the former CBN boss was alleged to have approved for printing 137,070, pieces of coloured N200 notes at the cost of N3.4 billion.

    He was however in count four alleged to have withdrawn the sum of N124, 860, 227, from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation in a manner not prescribed by the National Assembly.

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