Fact-Check: Is a ‘Leaked’ Audio Tape of CBN Governor Emefiele Genuine?
Claim: Amidst speculations that Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele is nursing an ambition to contesting for the presidency in the 2023 general elections, a ‘leaked’ audiotape is circulating on WhatsApp, purportedly exposing him in a “cover-up” conversation.
Full Text: The leaked phone conversation featured the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, his deputy, Edward Adamu; the Director of Finance, Dayo Arowosegbe; and the Special Adviser to the CBN Governor, Emmanuel Ukeje allegedly discussing how to cover up the loss of over N500 billion stolen from the CBN in a private investment that collapsed.
A caption accompanying the WhatsApp distributed audio conversation reads as follows, “there’s a saying that if one wants to find out the name of his great, great, great, grandfather, then he should join politics.”
Emefiele’s Political Trajectory:
Speculations have continued to gain momentum that Mr Emefiele may run for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In February this year (2022), campaign posters of the CBN Governor surfaced in Surelere and Teslim Balogun Stadium areas of Lagos State.
The posters were branded “THE CHARGE” 2023.
Recently, Emefiele’s supporters, mainly youths, spotted white T-Shirts with the inscription MEFFY 2023 at an occasion held in Lagos to draft him into the race.
Convener of the group, Wale Fapohunda, had told the gathering that since Emefiele’s appointment as CBN Governor, he had spent his energy building a resilient financial system that can serve the development needs of the economy.
Barely 24hours after the All Progressives Congress, APC National Convention in March, the campaign posters and banners of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has adorned major streets of Abuja, the nation’s capital city, hosting the ruling party’s convention.
The Director of Communications, Emefiele support Group, ESG, Benigna Ejimba, while reacting to the development, said the flooding of the country with the CBN Governor’s posters was an indication that almost all Nigerians were rooting for his candidacy to consolidate on the efforts of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Last month (April 2022), Presidential campaign posters of Mr Emefiele with Governor Mai Mala Buni as Vice President flooded Damaturu, the Yobe State capital dotting strategic locations in the metropolis including the famous central roundabout which is located at the heart of the city.
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court in Abuja has rejected Emefiele’s request to stop INEC from disqualifying him from contesting election.
The rumours that the CBN Governor was willing to join partisan politics were further enlivened after a video showing several cars branded with ‘Emefiele for President’ went viral on social media.
The CBN governor first publicly addressed the rumours on March 28 without debunking or confirming them. His tweets recently also did little to dispel those rumours.
He said that God would direct him over his decision on the 2023 presidency “in the next few days”.
Mr Emefiele made this known in a series of tweets on Saturday.
“I am humbled by the growing interest of those asking that I run for the Office of President in the 2023 general elections: I have not come to that decision,” he tweeted.
“I note and salute the sacrifices of those farmers and patriots going as far as raising personal funds and offering me Presidential Nomination Forms: I thank them most profusely. However, Should I answer their calls and decide to seek presidential nomination, I will use my own hard earned savings from over 35 years of banking leadership to buy my own Nomination Forms without proxies in an open and transparent manner in full compliance with the laws and Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria,” his tweet reads in part.
Emefiele’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), applied for an order of status quo ante bellum to be made against INEC and AGF so that the CBN governor would not be made to resign from office until 30 days to the general election.
In an ex-parte application argued on Monday, Emefiele denied being a political appointee but a Public servant not caught by section 84 (12) of the new Electoral Act 2022.
The CBN governor asked the court to invoke section 318 of the 1999 Constitution to bar the defendants from asking him to vacate office until 30 days before the February 2023 Presidential election.
The audio sparked wide commentaries from pundits but the Central Bank itself confirmed that it was authentic but selectively edited and that no money was lost.
The bank in a statement by its spokesperson then, Isaac Okorafor said, contrary to insinuations that the audio recording of selective conversations by Mr Emefiele and the officials were about a fraudulent transaction, it was “simply to proffer solutions to a misunderstanding that affected the Bank’s balance sheet.”
He had further said, “the selective conversation being circulated was simply a discussion to ascertain why the auditors took that position and next steps to resolve it. Obviously, it soon became clear that a state government’s loan cannot be classified as ‘bad’ or ‘irrecoverable’ when the state still exists and getting FAAC allocations.”
Commentators have said that the CBN’s clarification “exposed the lack of understanding on the part of those who thought they had caught Mr. Emefiele in a compromised position worthy of a breaking news and embarrassing enough to the government to not reappoint him.”
Amidst the controversy, Mr Emefiele met with President Buhari behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa though it remained unclear if the audio leak was the crux of the meeting.
CBN Explains Audio
According to the then CBN’s spokesperson Mr Okorafor, the National Economic Management Team and the National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had approached the CBN in 2015 to assist state governments with Conditional Budget Support.
The support was to assist states to pay the salaries, pensions and gratuities of their workers in the aftermath of the significant drop in global oil prices and associated Federation Accounts allocations.
He said to facilitate the recovery of the economy from the continuous impact of the recession, the CBN provided about N650 billion in loans at 9 per cent with a two-year grace period to 35 states of the Federation.
“These monies were distributed to the states monthly with documented approval of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Presidency.
“In closing the Bank’s 2018 accounts, external auditors in their Draft Account, erroneously classified about N150 billion of these loans as bad, which negatively affected the Bank’s Balance Sheet and shareholders fund,” Mr Okorafor said.
Conclusion/Verdict: The leaked audio purportedly exposing the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele in an N500bn cover-up deal is not recent. It first surfaced three years ago, precisely in 2019 in the Sahara Reporters.
Kidnapped School ChildrenYauri FGC Students, Kebbi
339 days 16 hours 55 minutes 26 seconds,
Baptist School Students, Kaduna
321 days 18 hours 36 minutes 51 seconds
Tegina Islamiya Pupils, Niger (Freed)
Report By: PRNigeria.com