New developments suggest that the suspended former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, might be exploring a plea bargain with the Federal Government (FG), as his fresh arraignment before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory was once again postponed.
Emefiele and his co-defendant, Mrs. Saadat Yaro, were notably absent from the court proceedings. The trial judge, Justice Hamza Muazu, presided over the session, but Emefiele’s case was not listed on the court’s cause-list for the day. An undisclosed court official cited “fresh developments in the matter” as the reason behind the delay.
A defense lawyer hinted at the possibility of a plea bargain arrangement. According to the lawyer, negotiations are ongoing and the hope is that the case will not proceed to trial. The court was requested to grant a two-week extension to facilitate these discussions.
While Emefiele’s lawyer, Mr. Kehinde Akinlolu, SAN, confirmed the postponement of the arraignment, he refrained from commenting on the potential plea bargain. Akinlolu mentioned that the Chief Judge of the high court, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, would likely issue the new trial date.
Plea bargaining involves a negotiated settlement in criminal cases where the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge or offense in exchange for a reduced sentence. This process requires the agreement of both the prosecution and the defendant, which the court then adopts as the final judgment.
Notably, this case against Emefiele centers around a 20-count corruption charge related to his tenure as the head of CBN. The charges include conspiracy, procurement fraud, and allegations of conferring corrupt advantages on himself and associates. The charges stem from alleged contracts awarded to a company in which Mrs. Saadat Yaro, a staff of the apex bank, was a director.