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CBN official tells court how he collected over $3m in cash for Emefiele

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Monday Osazuwa, an official of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has testified against Godwin Emefiele, a former governor of the apex bank, in the ongoing trial over alleged abuse of office.

Emefiele and his co-defendant, Henry Omoile, are currently facing trial on a 26-count charge at the high court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos.

The duo pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

At the court proceedings on Friday, Emefiele and Omole were granted bail by the court.

THE TESTIMONY

During the hearing, Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), called Osazuwa as the prosecution’s first witness in the case.

Osazuwa said he currently works with the apex bank as a senior supervisor.

The CBN official told the court that he met Emefiele while working as a dispatch rider for the Victoria Island branch of Zenith Bank in Lagos.

The witness said Emefiele was the deputy managing director of Zenith Bank when he started working with him.

Osazuwa added that he was running errands for the former CBN governor during the period at Zenith Bank.

The witness told the court that he joined CBN as a contract worker in 2014 and was confirmed as an employee in 2015.

Osazuwa said he was employed when Emefiele was the CBN governor and was posted to his office in Lagos.

“He (Emefiele) usually communicates with me through Whatsapp. I see him when he comes to Lagos,” the witness said.

“My role as a senior supervisor is recording and filing. The other assignment, he (Emefiele) gives me, is to carry out certain messages and errands for him.”

The CBN official said he used to receive dollars in cash from some individuals for Emefiele and take the same to his Ikoyi residence.

The witness said whenever Emefiele was not in Lagos, he used to give the money to the second defendant — Omoile — at the former CBN governor’s residence in Ikoyi.

Osazuwa said Emefiele ordered him to call one Moeit every Friday to ask if there was anything for him.

He added that Moeit always directed him to meet one Raja Punjab, who always gave him dollars in cash to give to Emefiele.

“In 2020, he (Emefiele) called me while he was outside Lagos. He said he will give me a number to call a man who will give me something,” Osazuwa said.

“I called the man — Mr Moeit. He said he will give me his boy’s number. The name of the guy is Mr Raja.

“I called Mr Raja. He gave me his address. When I went to see him, I got to the place and sat down for a few minutes.

“He gave me an envelope. He brought it out and counted it. It was $100,000. He said I should give it to my boss (Emefiele).

“My boss was not around. He (Emefiele) said I should give it to Henry (second defendant).”

The witness also told the court that he was collecting dollars in cash from Punjab from 2020 to 2023.

Osazuwa said $1 million cash was the highest amount of money he collected from Punjab for Emefiele.

“$1 million was the highest amount in cash. I have also collected $850,000, $750,000, and $400,000,” he told the court.

WHO IS RAJA PUNJAB?

Raja Punjab is one of the witnesses listed by EFCC for the prosecution of Emefiele.

The identity of Punjab is currently unknown as the anti-graft agency did not disclose any detail about him apart from his name.

In the charge sheet, Emefiele’s co-defendant was accused of accepting $110,000 on behalf of the former CBN governor.

The money was said to be a “reward for allocating foreign exchange by the Central Bank in favour of Raja Punjab’s employer”.

The anti-graft agency accused Emefiele of collecting $17.3 million from Punjab on account of forex allocation to his employer.

EFCC did not mention the name of Punjab’s employer in the charge sheet.

THE ADJOURNMENT

Earlier, the court accepted the application of EFCC that the testimony of eight witnesses be heard in closed session.

The EFCC counsel told the court that some of the agency’s witnesses are scared to testify in the case because they are being threatened.

Rahmon Oshodi, the presiding judge, adjourned the case to April 29 for continuation of trial.

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Lagos speaker, Obasa, loses father

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The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, has lost his father, Alhaji Sulaiman Obasa.

It was learnt that Obasa died on Tuesday morning.

Confirming his demise, the Secretary of the Orile Agege Local Council Development Area chapter of the All Progressives Congress, who doubles as the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Political and Legislative Affairs, Fatai Olagoke Ajibola, in a statement on Tuesday, said the late Obasa would be buried today according to Islamic rites.

“Late Alhaji Obasa will be buried this evening (Tuesday) in accordance with Islamic injunctions.

“The venue of the Janazah prayer will be communicated in due course,” Ajibola added.

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Police begin 24-hour motorbike patrol of Third Mainland Bridge

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The police Rapid Response Squad (RRS) in Lagos has commenced a 24-hour patrol of the Third Mainland Bridge as a way of protecting the infrastructure.

On Monday, Olayinka Egbeyemi, commander of the RRS, directed the squad’s bike riders to commence a daily patrol of the bridge to prevent harassment of road users and vandalism.

“This is in line with the directives of the commissioner of police, CP Adegoke Fayoade, to the squad for the protection of lives, property and public infrastructure on the newly renovated bridge,” Egbeyemi said.

The RRS commander said motorists and road users should cooperate with motorcycle cops so that they can serve them better.

The 11.8km Third Mainland Bridge was recently given a facelift.

Theft of electrical installations and other fittings on the bridge are rife and have persisted for decades.

Earlier this month, the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) arrested one Friday Nwafor for vandalising and stealing road light indicators on the newly renovated bridge.

The Lagos police command had also arrested four suspects for stealing armoured cables on the bridge.

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Labour gives FG May 31 ultimatum to reverse electricity tariff hike

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have given the federal government until May 31 to reverse the electricity tariff.

The labour bodies gave the ultimatum in a communiqué issued in Abuja on Monday at the end of a joint emergency national executive council (NEC) meeting of the NLC and TUC.

On April 3, the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) approved an increase in the electricity tariff for customers in the Band A classification—from N66 to N225 per kwh.

The tariff hike attracted public outcry and calls for its reversal.

On May 13, members of organised labour picketed the headquarters of the NERC, the federal ministry of power, and the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) in Abuja, demanding a reversal of the tariff.

The protest was replicated across Nigeria.

In the communiqué, the unions said the action taken by the government without consideration for the hardship of the masses was “unjust and burdensome”.

“The NEC once again vehemently condemns the unilateral increase in electricity tariffs by the authorities,” the communiqué reads.

“This action, taken without due consideration for the economic hardships faced by the masses and the provisions of the law, is deemed unjust and burdensome.

“The NEC reaffirms its demands for an immediate reversal of the tariff hike and the vexatious apartheid categorization into bands to alleviate the suffering of Nigerian workers and citizens and gives the National Electricity Regulatory Commission and the federal government until the last day of May 2024 to meet these demands.”

The organised labour said appropriate actions would be taken if the government failed to meet its demands.

“This includes, but is not limited to, the mobilisation of workers for peaceful protests and industrial actions to press home these demands for social justice and workers’ rights,” the unions said.

The labour unions also reiterated the May 31 ultimatum for the federal government to finalise the new national minimum wage fixing process for workers.

“We need an agreement that will genuinely reflect the true value of Nigerian workers’ contributions to the nation’s development and the current crisis of survival facing Nigerians as a result of government’s policies,” the labour movement added.

“The NEC affirms its commitment to ensuring that the interests and welfare of workers are adequately protected in the negotiation process.

“The NEC-in-session therefore reiterates the ultimatum issued by the NLC and TUC to the federal government, which expires on the last day of this month.”

The organised labour directed all councils whose state governments are yet to fully implement the N30,000 national minimum wage and its consequential adjustments to “immediately issue a joint two-week ultimatum to the culpable state governments to avert industrial action”.

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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