The Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has declared wife of former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, wanted.
She was declared wanted alongside a CBN official, Eric Odoh, a businesswoman, Anita Omoile, and a Bureau De Change operator, Jonathan Omoile.
According to a statement issued by the commission, they were declared wanted for allegedly conspiring with Emefiele to convert huge sums of money belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The wife of the former CBN boss reportedly went into hiding after her husband was arrested and charged to court.
The anti-graft agency also released the suspects’ mugshot on its website and social media handles.
“Emefiele, Odoh, Mr and Mrs Omoile, wanted by the EFCC. The quartet of Eric Odoh, Margaret Emefiele, Anita Omoile and Jonathan Omoile, are wanted by the EFCC for offences bothering on economic and financial crimes. Any information on their whereabout? Please contact the nearest EFCC Command or the nearest police Station,” read the statement attached to the mugshot.
The development marks a dramatic turn in the probe of past and present officials accused of corruption as there have been rare cases of spouses charged alongside those standing trials.
Emefiele’s travails began after President Bola Tinubu suspended him on June 9, 2023, leading to his arrest by the Department of State Services (DSS) in Lagos.
He was later transferred to Abuja and moved to custody of the EFCC, which arraigned him on money laundering and fraud charges.
After some weeks, Tinubu named Jim Obazee as the Special Investigator to probe the apex bank under Emefiele’s watch.
In his report to the president, Obazee had, among other allegations, accused Emefiele of opening 593 foreign bank accounts without approval of either President Muhammadu Buhari or CBN’s board of directors.
The investigator disclosed that the accounts were in different banks in the United Kingdom, the United States and China, especially £543, 482,213 in fixed deposits in UK banks alone.
The investigator, according to the documents, had also claimed that the recent naira redesign was not expressly approved by former President Muhammadu Buhari.
The report had alleged that Buhari’s aide, Sabiu Tunde Yusuf, came up with the idea.
But Emefiele described the allegations as satanic, saying his attention was drawn to it after he was released from the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja, where he had been detained for 34 days over alleged N1.5bn procurement fraud.
The erstwhile CBN governor said he handed over Buhari’s approval to Obazee during the process of his investigation in the presence of senior CBN officials and his (investigator’s) team.
Emefiele, who stated that he had gone through the publications, said the contents therein were false, misleading and calculated to disparage his person, injure his character and to serve the “selfish” interest of the private investigator.
I approved Naira Redesign – Buhari
Speaking at the launch of the new banknotes at Aso Rock, ex-President Muhammadu Buhari had explained in detail the basis for his approval to the CBN to redesign the ₦200, ₦500 and ₦1000 banknotes.
According to the former president, “the new Naira banknotes have been fortified with security features that make them difficult to counterfeit.”
He also added that the new banknotes would help the Central Bank design and implement better monetary policy objectives as well as enrich the collective memory of Nigeria’s heritage.
“A cycle of banknote redesign is generally aimed at achieving specific objectives, including but not limited to: improving security of banknotes, mitigating counterfeiting, preserving the collective national heritage, controlling currency in circulation, and reducing the overall cost of currency management.
“As is known, our local laws – specifically the Central Bank of Nigeria Act of 2007 – grants the Central Bank of Nigeria the power to issue and redesign the Naira.
“In line with this power, the Central Bank Governor approached me earlier in this year to seek my permission to embark on a currency redesign project. I considered all the facts and reasons presented before me by the Central Bank.
“There was an urgent need to take control of currency in circulation and to address the hoarding of Naira banknotes outside the banking system, the shortage of clean and fit banknotes in circulation, and the increase in counterfeiting of high-denomination Naira banknotes. It is on this basis that I gave my approval for the redesign of the ₦200, ₦500 and ₦1000 banknotes,” he had said.
In the build-up to the 2023 General Elections, President Bola Tinubu, then candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), had said the naira redesign policy, which brought hardship to the populace when it was introduced, was targeted at him.