FACT-CHECK: Did Emefiele, Lemo refund N4 Trillion to the Nigerian Government?

CLAIM: There have been multiple reports claiming that a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele and a former Deputy Governor, Tunde Lemo, refunded 4 trillion Naira and USD$500 million respectively, to the federal government.

Further checks reveal that this information was was posted on X (formerly Twitter) by Jackson Ude, a journalist and the tweet, which has since gone viral, was liked by over 800 people and reposted by 733 others, as of the last count.

The tweet read: “Jim Osayande Obazee, the Special Investigator to investigate the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and related entities, has recovered over N12 trillion looted mostly by members of the former President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration. The former CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, allegedly returned N4 trillion, gave up ownership of six Banks linked to him, while a Deputy Governor, Tunde Lemo, refunded $500 million. The Committee has also rejected several millions of Dollars in bribe offers from former members of the Buhari’s Government”, Ude tweeted.

VERIFICATION: In an attempt to verify the claims, our fact checking team reached out to relevant agencies including the Ministry of Finance, which would be in the know of such transactions.

But the Director Press, Federal Ministry of Finance, Philo Odosin, said the Ministry has no record of such. “Just confirm from the source of the story where he got the story from”, she said.

Also, our reporter contacted Mr Lemo, who was enraged over the claim in the report and described it as a “tissue of lies.

“There is no iota of truth in the publication,” he said in an initial response to the report.

His lawyers, Zest Partners, Abuja, in a letter dated November 22, 2023, to News Band, which published the false report, demanded a retraction within 24 hours, warning the website could face further action.

“It is our client’s express instruction that he did not at any time take any $500,000,000 from the Nigerian Government warranting a refund. That he did not refund $500,000,000 or any amount to the federal government of Nigeria either through the Special Investigator of the federal government or any agent of the government or any person by whatever name called.

“Our client finds the statement defamatory and an attack on his personality to malign him in the eyes of well-meaning Nigerians and his friends outside Nigeria”, the letter stated.

Mr Emefiele’s family have also described the report as false and an attempt to continue to malign the reputation of the banker.

“This is another lie. Same pattern of lies they have been writing about Godwin Emefiele to destroy his name and reputation. If you follow his persecution, you will clearly see that it is a case of pure witch-hunting and harassment of someone who served this country to the best of his ability. People know the truth. The world knows what is going on. His sin is the Naira redesign policy, which former President, Muhammadu Buhari, has said he approved to protect our elections from vote buying and fraud.

“Nigeria just passed a N2.1 trillion supplementary budget that is being funded by borrowing. Will it need to borrow if it has such so-called refunded money?” said a family source.

Attempts to get a reaction from the news website and Mr Ude were unsuccessful, as phone calls to their known numbers were not acknowledged.

CONCLUSION: News making the rounds that Messrs. Emefiele and Lemo returned a “whopping N4 trillion and $500m” to the coffers of the Nigerian government is FALSE.

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