December 6, 2023

Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele gives a press conference on the naira devaluation during a media briefing in Abuja on June 15, 2016. Nigeria's central bank said today it will ease currency controls and allow the naira to devalue as the country works to attract investment amid a worsening economic outlook. Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele said in a televised speech from Abuja that the currency market will be "purely market driven". / AFP / PHILIP OJISUA (Photo credit should read PHILIP OJISUA/AFP/Getty Images)

Nigerian prosecutors filed a 20-count indictment against suspended and detained central bank governor Godwin Emefiele on Tuesday, one of them accusing him of “conferring unlawful advantages”, a government lawyer said.

President Bola Tinubu, who is embarking on the boldest reforms in Africa’s biggest economy in more than a decade, has launched a probe of the central bank under Emefiele after criticising its policies at his inauguration in May, especially moves to prop up the naira currency.

It was not immediately clear what the new charges were. But court documents deposed by the Attorney General’s Office last month showed that Emefiele faced criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation of funds charges, among others, which carry long jail terms.

Emefiele, who was detained on June 10, a day after Tinubu suspended him, pleaded not guilty to a charge of possessing a firearm. A judge granted him bail following his plea on July 25 but he was immediately rearrested.

“We have filed a matter with comprehensive charges” and “we are withdrawing the (firearm) case at the Federal High Court in Lagos,” a government lawyer told Reuters.

Emefiele has challenged his detention and filed an application for bail. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Emefiele introduced a multiple exchange rate policy to keep the currency artificially strong, which former President Muhammadu Buhari had viewed as a matter of national pride.

Buhari appointed Emefiele for a second five-year term in 2019. He was due to retire next year.

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