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Former CBN Director Says He Didn’t See Minutes of Meeting on Naira Redesign - THISDAY

MAY 29, 2024

BY  Alex Enumah in Abuja

A former Director of Currency Operations at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Ahmed Bello Umar, yesterday, said he never saw the minutes of the meeting of central bank’s management on the decision to redesign the naira.

Umar, who claimed that he signed the memorandum for the redesign of the naira in 2022, when asked by his lawyer to comment on an October 26, 2023, Meeting of the Committee of Governors (CoGs) of the CBN responded by saying, “I have not seen the minutes of the meeting, it was only circulated among members of the CoG.”

Umar, stated this while giving evidence in the trial of the immediate past Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who is being tried for allegedly redesigning the nation’s currency, the Naira in 2022, without approval.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on May 15, 2024, 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, had however denied the charge and was admitted to bail in the sum of N300 million.

At the commencement of trial yesterday, counsel to the Commission, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, called Umar, the First Prosecution Witness (PW1), who narrated how the management of the apex bank directed his department (Currency Operations) to, “come up with a memo on the redesign of the naira notes sometimes in August 22, 2022.”

Umar, stated that upon completion of the task the memo was submitted to the CoG and subsequently listed for consideration.

The witness added that the CoG which is made up of the CBN governor as chairman and four deputy governors as members later on October 26, 2022, held a meeting via zoom to deliberate on the memo his department submitted.

He disclosed that he joined the meeting only “to make my presentation and exited ” afterwards.

Umar, further disclosed that after the meeting the Corporate Affairs Department conveyed anticipatory approval of the CoG pending ratification by the Board of Directors (BoD), which according to him is the highest management body.

The BoD he said is made up of 12 members, comprising the CBN boss as chairman, four deputy governors, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Accountant General of the Federation and five external members appointed by the president.

Speaking further, the witness said, “the CoG did not approve items 1 and 3, while item 2 was modified to include N200 denomination.”

“But the proposal for the exercise to take place in 2023 was not accepted by CoG,” he added. The witness stated that a memo was afterwards prepared for consideration of the BoD and “it was considered on December 15, 2022”.

On the procedure for the issuance of naira notes, the witness stated that the BoD would have to recommend to the president for the design of the forms and devices that shall be contained in the currency.

“After the approval of the president, production of the currency will commence,” he said.

The witness continues his evidence today.

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 is accusing 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 also 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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