EFCC Witness Admits Emefiele’s Wife Not Beneficial Owner of CBN Contracts, Companies

•Says former apex bank’s governor does not have connection with companies under investigation, his wife not signatories to accounts

Funke Olaode

An Assistant Manager with Zenith Bank Plc, Mrs. Ifeoma Ogbonnaya, has revealed that former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele and his wife, Margaret were not signatories to the accounts alleged to be owned by them.

Ogbonnaya, who said this while being cross-examined by Emefiele’s Counsel, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, also told the court that neither the former  CBN governor nor  his wife were  signatories to the three accounts namely: Limelight Multidimensional Ltd, COME  Support Services Ltd and Ambswin Resources Ltd.

According to her, the signatory to the accounts is one Mrs. Augustina.

Ojo, further asked the EFCC witness whether she knew the procedure for opening Corporate Account which she answered in affirmative.

Speaking further, Ogbonnaya said she was not involved in the opening of the account but took over when the person in charge left.

In furtherance of his cross examination, Ojo asked “In your perusal of the relevant account package opening, did you come across any letter or board resolution with regards to COME Support Services Limited that says Mrs. Margaret Emefiele was the direct beneficiary of the account? The witness said “no,” saying names she has on the shareholders’ form were one Mrs. Augustina and Ibrahim Oluwadamilare Taofeek.

Ojo, then asked, “as an experienced banker, are you aware that there is a regulatory requirement on the collection of information on beneficial owners of a Corporate Account?

 The Witness said “yes, because there is a Know-Your-Customer (KYC) platform through which banks collect information.”

While confirming that the signatory to the account was one Mrs. Augustina, the witness hinted that transactions would still not be processed until it was approved by Mrs. Emefiele.

The witness further told the court that instructions to banks are not oral but in writing and before she came to court to give evidence, she had opportunity to review the account opening of the three companies.

According to her: “I did not come across any document in the account opening package that Mrs. Emefiele is a direct beneficial owner of the corporate accounts of the companies.

“There is a regulatory requirement on the collection of information on beneficial owners of a corporate account.

“When the former relationship officer left, I continued the relationship based on what the previous relationship officer has been managing them  with.”

While pressing further Ojo asked whether she had any relationship with the former CBN Governor, Ogbonnaya told the court that there was no relationship between Emefiele and the companies.

“Does any of the passport photographs on the form carried Emefiele or his wife”?  The witness said “No.”  Have you ever attended board meetings of any of the three companies? Ogbonnaya said “no.”

 “I suggest to you that you do not know how the three companies are being managed.” The witness said, “to some degree because as a Relationship Manager, we hold meetings to deliberate on how the accounts are being run.”

Earlier in his continuation of examination by EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness was shown Exhibit A page 96 to 101, page 123 to 124 wherein she read out the inflows and outflows in the companies’ accounts.

 She said, “The transaction of March 5, 2018 are inflows from CBN N797,000.00, March 7, 2018 and N3,946,300 in favour of Dumis Oil and Gas on the account of Limelight.

 “On April and May 2018 there was debit from the account in favour of Dumis Oil and Gas. On May 25, 2018 there was inflow from CBN into this account . On May 3,2018 there was debit in favour of Dumis. On June 19, 2018, there was inflow from CBN to this account and on June 25, 2018 there was two inflows from CBN to this account.”

However, before the proceeding was brought to a close, Ojo and Oyedepo argued over one of the exhibits provided by Ogbonnaya, a WhatsApp message to ascertain her conversation with Mrs. Emefiele. After going back and forth, the Judge ordered that the WhatsApp message should be brought before court on the adjourned date.

After listening to the witness, Justice Oshodi subsequently adjourned further cross examination to October 28, 29 and 30,2024.

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