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Emefiele, wife not signatories to companies accounts – Witness

An Assistant Manager with Zenith Bank Plc, Mrs Ifeoma Ogbonnaya, has revealed that the embattled Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Governor Godwin Emefiele, and his wife Margaret, were not signatories to the account alleged to have been owned by them.

Emefiele is standing trial over abuse of office and alleged $4.5 billion and N2.8 billion fraud, while in office.

Ogbonnaya, who revealed this while being cross-examined by Emefiele’s Counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), also told the court that she had Bachelor Degree in Archaeology and Tourism from University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

The witness said the signatory to the companies accounts are Mrs Bruce Olotu Augustina, Omoile Augustina and Oriekose Agustina and Ibrahim Oluwadamilare Taofeek.

She also said that the companies have no list of directors.

According to her, the signatory to the accounts is one Mrs Augustina.

She, however, told the court that the transaction would not be processed until it was approved by Mrs Emefiele.

The witness said: “One Mrs Augustina is the signatory to the accounts but I still maintain that Mrs Margaret Emefiele gave me instructions through phone calls, WhatsApp chats and my official email.

“I saved Mrs Emefiele’s number as ‘margo’ on my phone and she has several numbers but I can only remember her foreign number which is +447941835451.

“The phone numbers are saved on my mobile device, IPhone 11, which are for my contact, both personal and official.

The witness further told the court that instructions to banks are not oral but in writing and before she came to court to give evidence, she had opportunity to review the account opening of the three companies.

Ogbonnaya reiterated that Emefiele’s name and his wife’s did not appear as shareholders or signatories to the corporate accounts of the companies.

“I did not come across any document in the account opening package that Mrs Emefiele is a direct beneficial owner of the corporate accounts of the companies.

“There is a regulatory requirements on the collection of information on beneficial owners of a corporate account.

“There is a Know Your Customer (KYC) platform through which banks collect information on the beneficial owner of an account but I was not involved at the initial opening of the account.

“When the former relationship officer left, I continued the relationship based on what the previous relationship officer has been managing them with,” she said.

The witness also said that KYC was before the court and that financing risk assessment formed part of KYC.

She also confirmed to the court that in the running of the business of banking, Zenith Bank followed guidelines as regards deposit and withdrawal funds.

She also told the court that there was no relationship between Emefiele and the companies.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had on April 8 arraigned Emefiele on 23 counts bordering on abuse of office, accepting gratifications, corrupt demand, receiving property fraudulently obtained and conferring corrupt advantage.

Also, his co-defendant Henry Omoile-Isioma, was arraigned on three counts bordering on acceptance of gift by agents.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty.
Justice Rahman Oshodi adjourned the case until Oct. 28 for continuation of trial.

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