Witness Narrates Alleged Payment Of $600,000 Bribe To CBN Director

Witness Narrates Alleged Payment Of $600,000 Bribe To CBN Director

A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of the former Central Bank Governor (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, on Thursday told a Federal High Court in Lagos that he was pressured to pay a $600,000 bribe to an official of the bank to secure payment for a contract he executed for the apex court.

The witness, Managing Director of Resource Computer Limited, Victor Onyejiuwa, also claimed that a former Director of CBN, John Ayoh, allegedly told them that if he refused to pay the bribe, payment for the contract would not be processed.

The former CBN boss was arraigned before the court alongside one Herry Omoile on allegations of accepting gratification, accepting gifts through agents, corruption, and fraudulent property receipts.

The anti-graft agency also accused the defendant of conferring corrupt advantage on his associates contrary to the Corrupt Practices Act 2000.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty.

Onyejiuwa, who was led in evidence by the counsel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), told the court that his company deploys hardware and software-tailored solutions that address Security, Network, Storage, Backup Solutions, Data Protection and Recovery, Virtualisation, Data Center Solutions, ICT Training & Education Services and a host of other ICT needs.

The witness said that his company also offers services to mostly banks such as First Bank, Sterling Bank, and oil and gas companies.

Onyejiuwa informed the court that his company, Source Computers Limited, provided information and communication technologies assistance to the apex bank between 2014 and 2019.

The witness said his company was awarded at least five contracts within the stipulated period.

He added that sometime in 2017, his company was awarded an “enterprise storage and servers” contract by the CBN.

Onyejiuwa said after his company executed the contract, he was approached by John Ikechukwu Ayoh, a former director at the Central Bank of Nigeria, that the “management needs something” from the contract.

The witness alleged that Ayoh told him that if he did not accede, the funds meant for the contract would be delayed by the apex bank.

He said, “After the contract had been executed, I was accosted by Mr John, saying the management was requesting something from the transaction,” he said.

“He said there was pressure on him. I told him that our payment was being delayed. He told me that if I didn’t accede to his request, my payment would not be approved.

“After several back and forth for him to see why I needed to get paid and my obligations with my partners, I succumbed to his pressure.

“I was able to organise the sum of $400k and $200k to facilitate payment of the contract funds. Within two or three weeks after, payment was made. That is what happened.”

When asked by Oyedepo to mention the amount allocated to the contracts executed for the CBN, he said that the highest contract sum was $1.2 bn in 2017 and late 2018 when the naira traded at N360/$ 1.

He also told the court that there were other small payments of N24m and N17m.

When asked by the Prosecution to explain what he meant by if he didn’t listen to us, your payment will not be approved, he answered that, at that time, it was just for him to get his money from the management and did not bother to ask who they were.

Earlier, the second prosecution witness, John Ayoh, while concluding his cross-examination, told the court that on November 26, 2014, he had a confrontation with Emefiele. He refused to do something wrong.

He said,” I walked out of his office and said he should sack me if he wanted to”.

Ayoh also stated that his relationship with Emefiele was formal, as he never had any informal relationship with him.

When asked what he meant by doing something wrong, Ayoh said that Emefiele wanted him to approach vendors and ask them for gratification, but he refused.

The case has been adjourned to May 17.

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