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Court Grants Bail to Ex-Nigerian Central Bank Chief Facing Fraud Charges

A Nigerian court has freed former central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele, who has been charged with six counts of fraud and corruption, on bail. Emefiele, suspended as head of the central bank in June and arrested by the security services, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He was granted bail by Justice Hamza Muazu on Wednesday subject to the provision of a 300 million naira (roughly $333,000) bond and two sureties with properties in the upscale Maitama district of the country’s capital Abuja.

“I hereby admit the applicant [Emefiele] to bail subject to his appearance in court,” Justice Muazu said in his ruling.

The judge asked Emefiele, 62, to deposit his travel documents with the court and remain in Abuja while the case against him proceeds.

The disgraced former bank chief, who made an unprecedented run for the Nigerian presidency last year, was one of the country’s most powerful people in the last decade. He was head of the bank for nine years, mostly under President Bola Tinubu’s predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari.

Emefiele oversaw a much-criticised system of multiple exchange rates used to keep the local naira currency artificially strong.

But then he fell out of favour with the government after Buhari’s exit and resigned in August, paving the way for Tinubu’s appointment of new central bank governor Olayemi Cardoso.

At his inauguration in May, Tinubu, who announced economic reforms, had said the central bank policy needed “thorough house-cleaning”.

Emefiele has since been accused of “conferring corrupt advantage”. Prosecutors cut the charges from a previous 20-count indictment, which he faced along with two others, so he could be tried separately and quickly. He has not commented publicly on the case.