Following an online report allegedly casting aspersions on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, the apex bank has said Emefiele and his team will not be deterred in their effort to steer the Nigerian economy away from the looming recession due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, in spite of the push by some vested interests to impugn the integrity of the Bank.
The online newspaper reports that a confused police witness indicted himself with his video played during hearing in the case between the chairman of George Uboh Whistleblower Network (GUWN), Dr. George Uboh and the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
Wednesday’s proceeding was the continuation of the Trial Within Trial (TWT) which commenced on Monday, June 22.
The trial judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu had ordered for a TWT after the whistleblower accused the police of obtaining statement from him under duress.
To ascertain the veracity of the claim, Justice Halilu ordered that Trial Within Trial be conducted.
In another development, the CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, Isaac Okorafor made the declaration in Abuja in a chat with newsmen, disclosing that the Bank had uncovered sinister plans by some persons with selfish interests in Nigeria’s economic and socio-political space to distract the CBN and discredit the institution through deliberate misinformation, complete fabrications and outright lies.
He said that the Bank, in pursuit of its mandate enshrined in the CBN Act (2007), as Amended, will continue to strive to ensure accretion to the external reserves to safeguard the international value of the Naira, in addition to ensuring no individual or institution circumvents the system.
According to Okorafor, the Naira, in the past three years, had remained stable against other world currencies, due largely to strict measures put in place by the CBN to check cases of round-tripping. He said the Bank, working with other relevant agencies of government, had equally curtailed the activities of economic saboteurs neck-deep in smuggling and other economic crimes.
While noting that those opposed to the policies of the CBN will not relent in their effort to undermine the Bank, he said the Bank remained resolute to the dictates of its enabling Act and would not be distracted by subjective criticisms from persons who do not mean well for the general good of the Nigerian people and the economy.
He recalled that the CBN, under Emefiele’s leadership, had made genuine patriotic efforts at promoting economic growth and development through its intervention programmes, particularly in the agricultural sector, which he said led to the revamp of value chains across over ten agricultural commodities, including cotton, oil palm, fish, poultry, livestock and maize, among others. He cited the rice revolution under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) as a major contributor to shielding Nigeria from a food crisis when major rice producing countries of the world halted exports from their shores in the height of the corona virus (COVID-19).
Also alluding to the recent interventions of the Bank through the N50 billion Targeted Credit facility (TCF) for households and small businesses affected by the corona virus and the N100 billion Credit Support for the Health sector, Okorafor said the Bank remained people-oriented.
Continuing, the spokesman bemoaned a situation where persons with vested interest in the economy of the country and its socio-political landscape continued to misinform unsuspecting members of the policies of the Bank as well as impugn the integrity of the institution and its key officers.
Okorafor assured that the CBN remained committed to transparently pursue its mandate in the interest of majority of Nigerians rather than for the selfish interest of a few, stressing that majority of Nigerians were better informed and would not indulge in unpatriotic economic acts for selfish purposes.
On Monday, the Prosecution counsel told the court that he has a video to show that Mr. Uboh gave his statement voluntarily.
The court granted the Prosecution permission to show the video footage to the court and video was shown (Wednesday).
The whistleblower defence counsel begins on fiery note.The day began with the lead defence counsel, Mr. Idumodin Ogumu, Esq. rejecting the video and a document which were only served him Tuesday evening.
Mr. Ogumu, raising objection over the files served yesterday, said he needed time to study and respond accordingly.
After several minutes of heated exchange between Justice Halilu and Barrister Ogumu, the judge prevailed on him and the studio was set.
In the video, which seems deliberately distorted, Uboh was seen writing in what seems like a paper and there it ends.
The contents were so heavily blurred that the write-up was ultimately missing, hence impossible to decipher.
Also, the audio part of the video was totally lacking.
Under cross-examination by the prosecution counsel, the Trial Within Trial Witness 1(TWTW 1), Superintendent of Police, Stanley explained that he used his Samsung phone to record the process of statement taking.
He added that accused was cautioned, wrote voluntarily, in an air conditioned office and that three officers were present.
After the video was played in court, TWTW 1 noted that Uboh made his statement only once.
The defence counsel then mounted the podium and mesmerised the TWTW 1.
At the onset he begged him not to lie to the court after ascertaining from him that he is a Christian.
Citing a Bible quotation, he told him: “Do not bear false witness”, to which the TWTW 1 acquiesced.
“Can you read contents of the “statement” purportedly signed by my client?” he asked.
“No, it’s not readable,” was the response.
“What happened at the station?” asked the defence counsel”
“The accused refused to give statement without his lawyers,” answered TWTW 1.
“How could you say the whistleblower gave statement voluntarily and now contradict yourself saying he refused to give statement,” roared Idumodin”. No response.
“Did he get a lawyer on 15th of May, 2019?” Negative.
“Did you grant him bail?” Negative. “I served him bail condition.”
“Did you release him afterwards?” Negative.
“Did you release him?” Negative.
“On the 16th: Did you grant him bail? Negative. “He didn’t meet bail condition.”
“19th?” “Yes, and he made statement”.
“How can you explain that someone refused to make statement for 4 days, the suddenly made one “voluntarily?” Silence.
“Did you mention Emefiele to the whistleblower on 15,16,17,18,19th?” “Yes.”
“Was Emefiele or any staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria there when he made statement?” “No.”
Defense counsel asserted to him that statement was made on May 15 and provided back-up details. Confusion. Then TWTW 1 denies.
“Do you know a man came and took Mr. George Uboh on bail?” Negative.
“Do you know DIG Ogbizi overruled and denied him bail?” Negative.
“Is there a date on the video?” Negative.
“I put it to you that video was made May 15.” Refutes.
“You did not film it?” Negative.
“You’re are not in the video.” Negative.
“How many minutes was the video?” “Some seconds,” was the answer.
“For how many minutes was the statement taken?” “About ten minutes.”
“Did you capture the whole moment?” “No.”
“Did you deliberately omit anything?” Negative.
“Where is the Samsung phone?” “It’s with me, my personal property,” answered TWTW 1.
“Play it to the court.” Judge overrules
When it became apparent that TWTW 1 could not defend the video and has nothing peculiar to offer in defence, the judge called it a day.
The court adjourned … for further hearing of Trial Within Trial.
▪︎ Additional report by Elombah.com