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  • Crime
  • Updated: June 19, 2024

Investigators reveal how $6.2m stolen from CBN shared by Emefiele, cohorts

Investigators reveal how $6.2m stolen from CBN shared by Eme

Information has surfaced regarding the distribution of the $6,230,000 in cash that was purportedly stolen from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on February 8, 2023.

The $6.2 million was allegedly taken from the central bank's vault under the guise of paying election observers, according to a special presidential investigating committee led by Jim Obaze that looked into the term of former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele.

The Nation was able to collect court records from which investigators painted the heist as an insider job, supposedly carried out mainly by CBN personnel working with two outsiders, Adamu Abubakar and Imam Abubakar.

The records said that the investigators claimed that $3,730,000 of the monies went to Odoh Eric Ocheme, who served as Emefiele's assistant while he was CBN Governor, and that the remaining $2,500,000 was split among three other people.

Ocheme supposedly justified his majority share by stating that he had to satisfy other interests within the central bank.

Emefiele has pleaded not guilty to the 20-count revised indictment brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, accusing him of participation in the crime.

However, Michael Onyeka Ogbu, a Deputy Director and Head of the CBN's Service Delivery Division acknowledged the cash withdrawal from the apex bank's Abuja branch—of which he was in charge—during a hearing on the matter.

Ogbu testified in court on February 12th, saying he accepted the payment after being certain it was approved by the appropriate authorities.

Ogbu recounted that he was the Abuja Branch Controller on February 8, 2023 and that he had received a payment request for that job.

He said: “On that day the request for the payment of $6,230,000 was received in my office by my Office Assistant, who brought it to my attention.

“When I received the document, I found that it was from the Banking Services Department.

“The Director, Banking Services signed the memo, and the content of the memo contained an instruction for the Branch Controller to pay the sum of $6,230,000 to a staff of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, with the identity and the name of the person mentioned.

“The memo said the payment was for international election observers and that we should debit an account – Naira Forex Account – with the naira equivalent of $6,230,000.

“The memo also said that the money will be refunded in the second quarter of 2023 by the Federal Ministry of Finance. It went on to say ‘Find attached the approval of the governor of the CBN for the payment.’

“The attachment had the approval of the governor of the CBN. It also had the approval of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the request letter from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.”

Ogbu said he sent the paperwork to the Head of Business Services Unit for processing and payment after studying them and determining they were adequate.

Ogbu responded, "Payment was eventually made," when asked if the funds were ever released. The payment of $6,230,000 was made on February 8, 2023. Cash was used to make the payment.

Some recipients invested their share of the money, estimated to be worth ₦1.4 billion, in real estate, some of which has been repossessed, according to court papers.

An affidavit submitted by a Deputy Superintendent of Police to the Federal High Court in Abuja detailed the findings of the investigators and the advancements achieved in an extradition case against Adamu Abubakar, Imam Abubakar, and Odoh Eric Ocheme. 

Extradition procedures against Adamu Abubakar, Imam Abubakar, and Ocheme have been initiated before the Federal High Court in Abuja. They are allegedly at large and are thought to have left the country.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police said: “We commenced investigation into the case and obtained copies of the withdrawal slip as well as the accompanying documents, Central Bank of Nigeria memos, dated 07/02/2023 and 31/01/2023 respectively, staff identity card of one Jibril Abubakar, letter dated 2/01/2023 purportedly written by Muhammadu Buhari to Boss Mustapha and letter dated 20/01/2023 purportedly written by Boss Mustapha to Mr Godwin Emafiele, which the Central Bank of Nigeria, Abuja Branch relied on in making the payment.

“Investigation at the office of the President as well as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in the Stale House revealed that the letters purportedly written by Muhammadu Buhari and for Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha did not emanate from the offices respectively, while Jibril Abubakar, whose identity card was used to cash the money in question is not a staff of the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

“We watched the Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) footages of the 08/02/2023 being the day the money in question was cashed, and the payee (Jibril Abubakar) could not be identified by the staff of either the CBN or that of the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, where he falsely represented himself to be working.

“A further study of the Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) footage revealed that a staff of the Abuja Branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria, identified as Abdulmajeed Muhammad received the impostor (Jibril Abubakar) at the gate of the bank when he arrived on the fateful date: 08/02/2023.

“Abdulmajeed Muhammad was consequently arrested and in his statement made on 15/12/2023, he admitted helping the impostor into the Abuja Branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria, but claimed that he did that innocently, the impostor having been referred to him by Bashirudeen Maishanu; a Senior Staff of the CBN.

“Abdulmajeed Muhammad further revealed that prior to 08/02/2023 when the impostor came to cash the money in question, he (Abdulmajeed Muhammad) had been invited by Bashirudeen Maishanu to explain the procedure of public officials making cash withdrawal from the CBN as those persons claimed to be officials from the office of the SGF and that the then president had approved certain fund for official assignment.

"We visited Kuje Correctional Centre, where we interviewed Godwin Emefiele, who purportedly approved the memos authorising the payment, as then CBN and he denied seeing, talk less of approving such memos.

“We also arrested some concerned staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria, who denied any involvement in the crime, before we finally arrested Bashirudeen Maishanu, who corroborated the account of Abdulmajeed Muhammad and further confessed to have been involved in the crime which, according to him was perpetrated by himself and the first to third defendants/respondents – Adamu Abubakar, Imam Abubakar and Odoh Eric Ocheme.

“Bashiru Maishanu further confessed that himself, the first and second defendants/respondents (Adamu Abubakar and Imam Abubakar) shared the sum of $2,500,000.00 from the stolen money, while the third defendant/respondent (Odoh Eric Ocheme), being a fellow staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria, kept the balance of $3,730,000.00 claiming that he had other interests to settle in the CBN.

“Bashirudeen Maishanu further confessed that both himself, and the first and second defendants/respondents jointly invested the United States dollars equivalent of the sum of N1, 440,000,000.00 into real estate business of Afrolyk Global Ltd.

"The Managing Director of the said Afrolyk Ltd, Aminu Lawal has been arrested and he confirmed the investment by Bashirudeen Maishanu, Adamu Abubakar and Imam Abubakar, and already refunded the sum of $200 000 00 to the Special Investigator’s team as part of the money he (Aminu Lawal) received as part of the purported investment.

“Cash of about $400,000 00 has also been voluntarily returned by Bashiru Maishanu from part of his remaining share of the money in question.

“The money (the $6,230,000) was received in cash from the Central Bank at Nigeria and also shared in the same cash by the defendants/respondents and others, making it difficult to trace the monies without arresting the defendants/respondents.

“It was later revealed that the third defendant – Odoh Eric Ocheme – was the Personal Assistant to Godwin Emefiele as the CBN governor while the first and second defendants (Adamu Abubakar and Imam Abubakar) are businessmen and associates of Bashirudeen Maishanu.”

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