May 10, 2024

Emefiele: I was pressured to offer $600k bribe, witness tells court



By Henry Ojelu

A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of the former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, Victor Onyejiuwa, yesterday narrated before the Lagos State Special Offences Court sitting Ikeja how he was pressured to pay $600,000 bribe for the award of a contract.

Onyejiuwa gave his account of the alleged bribery incident after another prosecution witness John Ayoh had admitted collecting the bribe but insisted that he was never in good terms with the former CBN governor.

Emefiele and his co-defendant, Henry Omoile, are currently facing trial on a 26-count charge.

Testifying yesterday before Justice Oshodi, Onyejiuwa who is the Managing Director of Resource Computer Limited, while being led in evidence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, prosecution counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, told the court that his company offers services to both private and public enterprises.

He said his company deploys hardware and software-tailored solutions that address Security, Network, Storage, Backup Solutions, Data Protection and Recovery, Virtualization, Data Center Solutions, ICT Training & Education Services and a host of other ICT needs.

Onyejiuwa told the court that his company, provided information and communication technologies assistance to the apex bank between 2014 and 2019.

The witness said his company was awarded at least five contracts within the stipulated period.

He added that sometime in 2017, his company was awarded an “enterprise storage and servers” contract by the CBN.

The contractor said after the contract was executed by his company, he was approached by a former director at the CBN that the “management needs something” from the contract.

The witness said the director told him that if he did not accede, the funds meant for the contract would be delayed by the apex bank.

“After the contract had been executed, I was accosted by the director who insisted tha the management was requesting something from the transaction,” he said.

“He said there was pressure on him. I told him that our payment was being delayed. He told me that if I didn’t accede to his request, my payment would not be approved.

“After several back and forth, for him to see reasons with me on why I needed to get paid, and my obligations with my partners, I succumbed to his pressure.

“I was able to organise the sum of $400k and $200k to facilitate payment of the contract funds. Within two or three weeks after, payment was made. That is what happened.”

When asked by Oyedepo to mention the amount that was allocated for the contracts executed for the CBN, he said that the highest contract sum was $1.2 bn in 2017 and late 2018 when the naira traded at N360/$ 1.

He also told the court that there were other small payments of N24m and N17m.

Earlier while concluding his cross examination by the defence team, John Ayoh had admitted not having a good working relationship with Emefiele.

He said: “I was not happy being unpopular with the former CBN governor but on a number of occasions, I signed contract letters to vendors.

“While I was a director with the CBN, my loyalty was to the bank and the Nigerian nation and my relationship with Emefiele was only formal and based on instructions.”

Justice Oshodi adjourned the case till May 17, 2024, for continuation of trial.

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