CBN: Revelations of bribery rock Lagos court

In a startling testimony before the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja, a contractor with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revealed that he paid a $600,000 bribe to secure payment for a contract.

Victor Onyejiuwa, Managing Director of Resource Computer Limited, disclosed this information on Friday, according to a report by Punch on Saturday.

Onyejiuwa testified that while executing contracts for the CBN, he had no direct dealings with former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele.

Instead, he alleged that the bribe was paid to John Ayoh, the former CBN Director of Information Technology. He detailed that all communications with Ayoh were conducted via WhatsApp, with the first installment of $400,000 paid in Lagos and the remaining $200,000 delivered in Abuja.

Onyejiuwa emphasized that there was no formal authorization from CBN management to pay the bribe. During cross-examination by Emefiele’s lawyer, Olalekan Ojo, SAN, Onyejiuwa confirmed that Ayoh signed both the contract award and its completion. He noted that his initial contract with the CBN was valued at N1.3 billion, followed by a second contract worth $2.1 million.

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Despite the bribery incident, Onyejiuwa continued working with the CBN until 2019, after Ayoh’s departure. He stated that no bribes were demanded for subsequent contracts executed under Emefiele’s tenure as governor. “I did a new contract with the CBN, and no bribe was demanded and the payment for the contract was made in due time,” Onyejiuwa testified.

During further cross-examination, Onyejiuwa admitted that he never sought confirmation from any CBN deputy governors regarding Ayoh’s authority to collect the bribe, nor did he have any direct instructions from Emefiele. He also revealed that he did not present any letter demanding a bribe to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The court heard that the $600,000 was delivered directly to Ayoh in his office, and an IT department official signed off on it after payment. Former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele and co-defendant Henry Omoile face 26 counts related to abuse of office and alleged fraud totaling $4.5 billion and N2.8 billion. Both have pleaded not guilty.

On a previous hearing date, Onyejiuwa told Justice Rahman Oshodi that he was coerced into paying $600,000 before his contract payment was approved. He recounted a senior CBN official pressuring him in 2017, stating that payment would be withheld unless the bribe was paid. Following this, Onyejiuwa managed to gather $400,000 and $200,000, respectively, which facilitated the contract payment within weeks.

The trial is set to continue on July 9 and 10, promising further developments in this high-profile case.

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