Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Tuesday testified in the Federal Capital Territory High Court that former President Muhammadu Buhari never approved $6.3 million for payment to election observers.
Mustapha appeared as a second prosecution witness against Godwin Emefiele, former Governor of the Central Bank, who is facing a 20-count charge bordering on alleged corrupt practices and forgery.
Mustapha refuted claims by the EFCC’s first witness, Ogbu Michael, a Deputy Director at CBN who testified in court on Monday and told the court that all requests for payments are usually addressed to his office, and that the request for payment of $6,230,000 was received from the Banking Services Department of the CBN.
Ogbu said the payments followed a request letter from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, addressed to the CBN governor, conveying presidential approval for the disbursement.
But Mustapha told Justice Hamza Muazu that he did not know anything about the transaction, adding that during his tenure as SGF until May 29, 2023, he never received any directive or memo from Buhari regarding the mentioned payment.
When he was shown a document that supposedly emanated from the then president, Mustapha He highlighted discrepancies in a document presented, suggesting it did not originate from the President’s office, citing the absence of a reference number, improper terminology, and the unusual ending phrase. Mustapha also asserted that there was an unsuccessful attempt to forge President Buhari’s signature on the document.
“A correspondence that has the seal of the president does not carry a reference number; Federal Executive Council decisions are not transmitted by letters but through extracts after conclusions are adopted.
“Thirdly, I am the custodian of the record of the FEC so the president will not be referring to me; fourth, there is no term called Special Appropriation Provisions; the two terms are Appropriation and Supplementary Appropriation.
“Five, correspondence from President Buhari never ends with ‘please accept the assurance of my highest regard, lastly, Nigerian government has no business with foreign election observers,” he said.
“There was no such approval from the president,” Mustapha insisted.
When Mustapha was shown another letter that supposedly emanated from the office of the SGF to the CBN (Ex6) regarding the transaction, he said the letter did not emanate from his office and he did not sign it.
Mustapha firmly asserted that he neither authored nor signed the mentioned letter, emphasizing that his office employs a numbered paragraph system in official correspondence, unlike the one presented.
He clarified that administratively, he wouldn’t have addressed Emefiele as ‘Dear Sir’ due to their differing official rankings. He added that letters from the SGF are numbered paragraph by paragraph, unlike the one purported to have been written by him.
Under cross-examination by Matthew Burkaa, Emefiele’s lawyer, Mustapha, disclaimed knowledge of a certain Jibril Abubakar, alleged to have represented the SGF office in collecting disputed funds, stating that Jibril was not his staff.
“Jibril is not my staff and never worked in SGF,” the ex-SGF said, adding that Jibril should answer for his acts.
He maintained that he never received a memo from former President Buhari regarding the contested transaction and emphasized that it was not standard practice for the SGF office to send staff to collect money from the CBN.
The court subsequently adjourned the hearing to March 7 and 11, 2024.
Emefiele was re-arraigned on the amended 20 counts, and he pleaded not guilty to the charges read to him.
Part of the charge reads: “That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, male, adult, sometime in March 2020 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did use your position as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to confer a corrupt advantage on your wife, Omoile Margret, and brother-in-law, Omoile Macombo, by awarding a contract for the external renovation of the CBN Governor’s Residence lying, being, and situated at No. 2 Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, in the sum of 99,826,452.47 to Messrs. Architekon Nigeria Limited, a company wherein the duo are directors and majority shareholders, and you thereby committed an offence.”