The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has rejected the application by former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, seeking the release of his passport to facilitate a medical trip to the United Kingdom. During the hearing on Monday, EFCC’s prosecution counsel, Muhammad Omeiza, argued against the motion filed by Emefiele’s defence, led by Abdulakeem Labi-Lawal.

The defence had earlier submitted an affidavit on June 25, 2024, asserting Emefiele’s need to travel abroad for medical treatment. Omeiza pointed out in the counter-affidavit that no medical report was presented to justify the necessity for treatment abroad, nor was there evidence that the alleged ailment could not be treated within Nigeria.

He emphasized that releasing Emefiele’s passport could potentially violate the conditions of his bail, as it was surrendered to fulfil those terms. The EFCC raised concerns about Emefiele’s potential as a flight risk, noting his connections overseas, including co-conspirators residing in the UK.

“The defendant might be tempted to jump bail because he is standing trial in three different courts,” Omeiza explained, highlighting the gravity of the charges against Emefiele.

Responding to the prosecution’s stance, Labi-Lawal dismissed their concerns as speculative. He suggested that should Emefiele not return from his medical trip, and the prosecution could issue an international red alert to facilitate his arrest.

After hearing from both sides, Justice Hamza Mu’azu adjourned the ruling on the application to July 16, 2024. The outcome of this decision could significantly impact Emefiele’s ability to travel abroad for medical purposes.

Emefiele is currently facing multiple charges across three separate courts. With Justice Mu’azu, he is accused of procurement fraud, forgery of former President Muhammadu Buhari’s signature, and other related charges.

He is also standing trial before Justice Rahman Oshodi in Lagos for alleged fraud involving substantial sums and before Justice Maryann Anenih in Abuja, relating to the unauthorized printing of currency notes.

Meanwhile, former Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, has praised the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukoyede, for raising alarm on treasury looting by public officials.

Peter Obi said Olukoyede’s alarm confirmed his constant advocacy on the need to prioritize tackling corruption that has ravaged the economy and kept the citizens poor.

Peter Obi, on Monday afternoon, urged the EFCC chairman to focus investigation on corruption and grand theft in government and public asset management.

He listed oil theft, budget padding, contract inflation, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds as areas that required special attention from EFCC.

“The recent alarm that was raised by the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ola Olukoyede on the massive looting of our treasury and assets by public officials in Nigeria deserves commendation.

“I have consistently advocated for prioritizing the tackling of grand corruption, which has ravaged our economy and impoverished our citizens. I urge anti-graft agencies to focus on investigating grand theft and corruption in government and public asset management, such as oil theft, budget padding, contract inflation, embezzlement, and misappropriation of public funds.

“It’s also crucial to hold those who engage in cronyism and nepotism. Lesser agencies can handle minor cases of petty theft and money spraying at parties.”

The former governor of Anambra State said “enough is enough” He commended Ola Olukoyede’s resolve to confront the scourge of corruption as laudable.

He added that Nigerians must hold those looting the country’s treasury accountable. He said public confidence and strengthening of institutions can be restored when citizens join hands in the fight against corruption.

“The EFCC chairman’s resolve to confront this scourge head-on is laudable, and I urge him to remain steadfast in his pursuit of verifiable cases. Together, we must ensure that those responsible for this large-scale pillage are held accountable and that our nation’s wealth is protected for the benefit of all Nigerians.

“By prioritizing high-impact cases, we can restore public trust, strengthen institutions, and ensure leadership that saves enough funds for healthcare, education, and infrastructure, pulling people out of poverty. It is time for accountability and transparency to prevail,” Peter Obi stated.

Austine Ikeru
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