Further information has emerged about the reasons behind the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, opting for a plea bargain in the alleged N6.69 billion fraud case filed against him.
Recall that Emefiele and his co-accused, Saadat Yaro, had reportedly chosen to engage in a plea bargain policy with the government.
The federal government had filed a 20-count charge against them related to an alleged breach of procurement laws and contract inflation, amounting to N6.9 billion.
However, the arraignment scheduled for Wednesday by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory was not stated on the court’s cause list.
Similarly, Emefiele and his co-defendant, Yaro, were not in court, and neither was any unusual security presence observed around the court premises.
The lawyers of the parties involved were also not present in court.
Sources said to be in the know revealed that the arraignment was shifted at the instance of the detained CBN Governor to enable all parties to come to an agreement on the plea bargain.
It was learnt that as part of the out-of-court settlement terms, Emefiele would forfeit any illicit funds and questionable assets traced to him. But, it could not be confirmed if any illegal fund has been linked to him.
He will also step aside as the CBN governor to enable the government to appoint a substantive holder.
It was also gathered that Emefiele and his relations would withdraw all matters in court.
According to The Nation, some highly-placed Nigerians interceded for Emefiele to make the government accept the plea bargain offer.
The turn of events on his trial was said to have “legal and political tones to avoid anything which may have negative impacts on the economic agenda of the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
A top source disclosed that Emefiele was worried about the likely dragging of his trial for years, adding that the suspended CBN boss and his family members weighed all options and settled for a plea bargain.
The source said: “Emefiele has considered all options and chose out-of-court settlement, which may lead to his freedom if the terms are agreeable to both parties.
“He felt he may face multiple trials, and he doesn’t want to go the whole hog of being in and out of court. For instance, since the time he was arrested, it has been difficult to verify his assets. So, he has a Code of Conduct case pending.
“But the plea bargain appeared the smartest option for him.
“He is expected to forfeit any suspicious cash and assets traced to him by law enforcement and anti-graft agencies.”
The source added: “Emefiele will step aside as the CBN governor. He may either resign or be sent on compulsory retirement.
“This will enable the government to appoint a substantive CBN governor.
“The settlement will allow the government to avoid a repeat of the legal challenges associated with the removal of a former CBN governor, Mal. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi by the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.”