Emefiele: NSPM MD admits suggesting ‘De La Rue’ for naira redesign in UK

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Story Highlights  

  • Ahmed Halilu, MD of NSPM, testified in court regarding his suggestion to engage De La Rue UK for the redesign of the disputed new naira notes. 
  • Halilu stated that the suggestion came after the CBN governor informed him of presidential approval for the redesign to be produced locally, aligning with existing capabilities and machinery. 
  • CBN engaged De La Rue UK, and one of their proposed options was approved by the CBN governor, leading to the local production of the redesigned currency notes. 

The Managing Director of the  Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) Plc, Ahmed Halilu has explained why he suggested to the former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to engage the services of De La Rue United Kingdom for the redesign of the disputed new naira notes.

Halilu testified before the Federal Capital Territory High Court as the second witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), in its alleged unlawful naira printing charges instituted against Emefiele before Justice Maryanne Anenih.

Nairametrics reported that the EFCC sued the former apex bank chief, Godwin Emefiele, accusing him of knowingly violating the provisions of Section 19 of the CBN Act 2007 by approving the printing of N375.520 million pieces of colour-swapped N1,000 notes at the total cost of N11.052 billion without the recommendation of the Board of the CBN and the strict approval of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, among others.

Emefiele had denied the allegations of unlawful naira printing, paving the way for the commencement of trial by the EFCC in the suit marked CR/264/2024.

What transpired in court today

Led in evidence by EFCC lead counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo(SAN),  Halilu, who worked as Executive Director, Operations, NSPM in 2018, said the embattled governor told him that he had a presidential approval for the redesign of the 1000 and 500 naira notes and that the currency is to be produced locally which means the design must conform with the available capabilities, capacities and the machinery that the company have for local production.

The witness said he was given a design in paper form by the suspended CBN governor and he suggested for little time to go through the proposed design to look at the proposed changes with his team and “come back to the CBN with our proposal.”

According to him, he noticed major changes in the paper design that was given to him, particularly the numbering system,  QR codes and the repositioning of the watermark on the new notes.

The witness said, “We (NSPM) suggested then that De La Rue of the United Kingdom be engaged to redesign the currency taking note of the capabilities we have.”

He continued that the company was then engaged by the CBN for a naira redesign.

He explained that while CBN owns 90% stake in NSPM, De La Rue has 1% stake, being the original designer of the Nigerian currency.

He submitted that De La Rue finally came up with two options, one of which was approved by the CBN governor.

“De La Rue came up with two options after the redesign. NSPM submitted it to the CBN governor for consideration and approval. One of the options was approved and that is what we (NSPM) produced (locally).

“The CBN governor who is the board chairman of the NSPM, approved the notes,” he said.

The witness confirmed he was in close contact with the Director of Currency Operations, CBN and the suspended CBN governor amid the naira redesign development and also attended the unveiling of the naira redesign currency as launched by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said the currency redesign was “almost the same with what was approved by the president,” adding that De La Rue was paid £ 205,000 for the services they rendered.

After taking his testimony, the court adjourned the trial till 19 September, October 2nd, 9th and 17th 2024.

Earlier, a former Director of Currency Operations at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ahmed Umar Bello,  told the court that what former president Buhari approved was not what the embattled governor approved.

More insights

Nairametrics previously reported that Emefiele was suspended from office by President Bola Tinubu, paving the way for an investigation into his office as CBN governor and subsequent prosecution.

The suspended governor had also filed a fundamental human rights suit against his prolonged detention before Justice O. Adeniyi.

The application was granted

  • Emefiele was arraigned on a two-count charge of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, on July 25, 2023.
  • The matter was eventually withdrawn by the Attorney General of the Federation and struck out by the court.
  • On November 17, 2023, the EFCC arraigned the former CBN governor before Justice Muazu on a six-count charge bordering on procurement fraud.
  • Emefiele pleaded not guilty to the charge. EFCC later amended the charges before Justice Muazu and re-arraigned Emefiele.
  • On April 4, 2024, the EFCC arraigned Emefiele before Justice Rahman Oshodi of the Lagos High Court over abuse of office bordering on alleged irregular allocation of billions of US dollars in foreign exchange.
  • The suspended CBN governor pleaded not guilty, and the case is yet to be concluded.

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