Nigerian prosecutors have filed a 20-count indictment against suspended and detained central bank governor Godwin Emefiele on Tuesday, one of them accusing him of “conferring unlawful advantages”, a government lawyer says.
President Bola Tinubu, who has embarked on the boldest reforms in Africa’s biggest economy in more than a decade, has launched a probe of the central bank under Emefiele after criticizing its policies at his inauguration in May, especially moves to prop up the naira currency.
It was not immediately clear what the new charges were. But court documents submitted by the Attorney General’s Office last month showed that Emefiele faced a criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation of funds charges, among others, which carry long jail terms.
Emefiele, who made an unprecedented run for the Nigerian presidency last year, was suspended by Tinubu on June 9 and has been held in detention by the secret police since June 10.
The suspended bank chief pleaded not guilty to a charge of possessing a firearm. A judge granted him bail following his plea on July 25 but he was immediately rearrested.
“We have filed a matter with comprehensive charges” and “we are withdrawing the [firearm] case at the Federal High Court in Lagos,” a government lawyer told the Reuters news agency.
Emefiele has challenged his detention and filed an application for bail but has not publicly commented on the accusations.
He introduced a multiple exchange rate policy to keep the currency artificially strong, which Muhammadu Buhari, Tinubu’s predecessor, had viewed as a matter of national pride.
Appointed by Buhari for a second five-year term in 2019, Emefiele was due to retire next year. He was the second-longest-serving governor of the central bank and oversaw the biggest economic downturn of Africa’s largest economy.