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CCTV shows Boss Mustapha, Godwin Emefiele dragging $6.2 million cash from CBN vault two weeks to 2023 election: Anti-Graft Czar Obazee

The theft, said to have occurred on February 8, 2023, was listed among a laundry of corrupt diversions of public cash linked to Mr Emefiele and other Buhari admin officials.

• December 23, 2023
Godwin Emefiele and Boss Mustapha
Godwin Emefiele and Boss Mustapha

The special investigator tasked with probing the Central Bank of Nigeria has returned with recommended charges for some senior officials of the past administration, saying they were linked to a brazen and relentless heist of public coffers. 

Jim Obazee said President Bola Tinubu should authorise the prosecution of former cabinet secretary Boss Mustapha and ex-central bank chief Godwin Emefiele for their roles in the removal of $6.23 million cash from the bank’s cellar in Abuja. 

The alleged theft, said to have taken place on February 8, 2023, roughly two weeks ahead of the February 25 presidential election, was listed among a laundry of alleged corrupt diversion of public money linked to Mr Emefiele and other officials of the Buhari administration.

Narrating the heist to Mr Tinubu in an undated memorandum believed to have reached the president on December 20, 2023, Mr Obazee said it was around February 7-8, 2023, that his investigators discovered that “$6.23 million was unlawfully removed from the vault cash from the foreign payments office, Abuja branch, of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

“The physical acts of unlawful removal of this amount were captured on the CCTV footage and preserved,” Mr Obazee added. 

Mr Obazee, who took the special investigator job despite his own past corruption and abusive behaviour, said efforts to steal the cash commenced on January 26 when Mr Mustapha sent a memo to Mr Emefiele requesting $6.23 million in cash. The memo itself followed a previous one dated January 23 from Mr Buhari to Mr Mustapha, which carried the header: “Presidential Directive on Foreign Election Observer Missions.”

Mr Obazee did not return a request from The Gazette seeking to obtain the video. Still, the anti-graft czar said the investigation suggested that the money was not given to foreign observers, adding that a CBN employee flagged the transaction as suspicious but failed to act. 

The investigator held the unreported transaction as part of an elaborate conspiracy to cover up wrongdoing by the previous regime at the CBN.

“A fraudulent cash withdrawal of $6.23 million perpetrated since February 8, 2023, was not discovered nor taken seriously until December 4, 2023, when a request for information was issued by the officer of the special investigator,” Mr Obazee said, adding that there was “an appearance of concealment” by CBN directors and departmental heads, including Ogbu Onyeka, Samuel Chukwuyem Okojere, Elizabeth Fasoranti,

Consequently, Mr Obazee said Messrs Mustapha, Emefiele and those listed above, among others, should be charged for forgery, concealment, stealing, conspiracy and fraud.

Mr Obazee said his investigation into CBN’s actions under Mr Emefiele would continue. He did not immediately recommend charges against Mr Buhari himself, although it was unclear if future evidence would compel him to bring charges against the former president, which would be the first in Nigerian history. 

Mr Mustapha declined comments when reached by The Gazette on Saturday evening for this story. An aide to Mr Emefiele said the ex-CBN chief, who was freed on Friday after 195 days in custody, had no comments.  

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