Alleged N6.9 Billion Fraud: Emefiele Explores Plea Bargain Deal

It was revealed yesterday that Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the embattled governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, who is currently under suspension, might be considering a plea bargain arrangement with the Federal Government.

This revelation comes amidst the continued postponement of his planned re-arraignment in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory at Maitama, where the proceedings were once again stalled yesterday.

Surprisingly, neither Mr. Emefiele nor his co-defendant, Mrs. Saadat Yaro, who are jointly facing a 20-count corruption charge filed by the Federal Government, were present for the hearing.

Despite the presence of Justice Hamza Muazu, the vacation judge overseeing the proceedings, it is worth noting that Mr. Emefiele’s case was conspicuously absent from the court’s official docket for the day.

An official of the court who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the case could not proceed as planned, “due to fresh developments in the matter.”

“Because of the developments, my lord had to suspend the arraignment. A new return date will be communicated to all the parties,” the official added.

Meanwhile, one of the defence lawyers in the matter, who hinted at the plea bargain to newsmen, said the move to settle the case out-of-court was at the instance of the suspended CBN boss.

“The parties are in talks and hopefully the matter will not proceed to trial. We are exploring a plea bargain arrangement. We have asked the court to give us at least two weeks,” the lawyer added.
Although Mr. Kehinde Akinlolu, SAN, who is Emefiele’s lawyer, confirmed the scheduled arraignment of his client not proceeding as planned, he was mute on the plea bargain issue.

He said the new trial date may likely be issued by the Chief Judge of the high court, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf.

A plea bargain is a legal mechanism within criminal trials that serves as a settlement option allowing defendants to admit guilt to a lesser offense or reduced charge. This strategic admission often leads to a corresponding reduction in sentencing or even the dismissal of charges.

Upon reaching a consensus between the prosecuting body and the accused, these terms are subsequently sanctioned by the trial court, which then incorporates them into its final judgment on the case.

This approach is permitted under section 270(1) & (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) of 2015, allowing its utilization as an accepted avenue for resolution.

Recalling recent events, it is worth noting that the scheduled arraignment of Emefiele encountered a similar delay on August 17th. The proceedings were hindered due to the absence of the second defendant, Mrs. Yaro, an employee of the apex bank.

The case’s prosecution, led by Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF), representing the Federal Government, informed the court that Mrs. Yaro’s absence was due to health reasons.