How Emefiele ignored Buhari’s approval in printing naira notes, Witness tells court

Ahmed Bello Umar, former Currency Operations Director at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), testified in a High Court in Maitama, FCT, revealing that the naira redesign directive issued by former President Muhammadu Buhari was not followed as specified.

Umar’s testimony came during the trial of ex-CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, who is accused of unlawfully printing naira notes.

Umar, who was in office during the naira redesign process, stated that although President Buhari approved a specific design for the new 1000, 500, and 200 naira notes on October 13, 2022, the final products deviated from the approved specifications. He emphasized that the CBN Act mandates the president to approve the form, design, and features of any new currency note, based on recommendations from the CBN Board of Directors.

“The notes approved by the president had the QR code,” Umar explained, adding that the approved design had the portrait on the right side, whereas the produced notes had it on the left. Additionally, the numbering style differed from what was initially sanctioned.

Umar clarified that his role as Director of Currency Operations included distributing notes and replacing those damaged, but not making decisions about currency design. He highlighted that the final notes, despite bearing his and the CBN governor’s signatures, were not as per the president’s approval.

The second prosecution witness, Ahmed Halilu, Managing Director of Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) Plc, corroborated Umar’s testimony. Halilu stated that although Emefiele claimed to have presidential approval for the redesign, logistical constraints made it impossible for NSPM to produce the notes locally as specified. Instead, the UK-based company Delarue was engaged to redesign the notes, resulting in further deviations from the approved design.

Halilu pointed out discrepancies such as the QR code, numbering system, and the position of the watermark, noting that the produced notes were “almost the same” as those approved by the president but not identical.

The case continues to unfold, shedding light on the complexities and irregularities surrounding the naira redesign process under the previous administration.

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