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June 11, 2023

Storm over Emefiele


CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele

*Labour Party, Agbakoba, lawyers, others fault arrest, detention

By Soni Daniel, Nnamdi Ojiego, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Egufe Yafugborhi & John Alechenu

Condemnations have continued to trail the arrest and detention of the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.

The Department of State Service, DSS, yesterday, admitted that the embattled apex bank boss was in its custody after initially denying arresting him.

Peter Afunanya, the DSS Public Relations Officer, confirmed the arrest of Emefiele in a statement.

“The DSS wishes to confirm that the suspended governor is now in its custody for some investigative reasons”, the statement said.

“The public, particularly the media, is enjoined to apply utmost caution in the reportage and narratives concerning this”, the statement warned.

Emefiele was suspended from office on Friday night by President Bola Tinubu. In a statement by Willie Bassey, Director of Information at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, his suspension was due to an ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the nation’s financial sector.

Emefiele assumed office in 2014 after succeeding Lamido Sanusi, who was equally suspended from office under controversial circumstances by President Goodluck Jonathan a few months before the expiration of his tenure.

Meanwhile, legal luminary, Olisa Agbakoba, has described Emefiele’s arrest as a shock.

Agbakoba, in a statement by his Media Relations Officer, Niyi Odunmorayo, said: “The suspension of the CBN governor from office is not a surprise as his tenure was way beyond monetary policy. But confirmation by the DSS that Emefiele is in its custody comes as a shock.

“The statutory role of DSS is internal security and I shudder to think what role DSS will play in this matter. The rule of law says it all – can the relevant agency responsible for Governor Emefiele step forward but this excludes the DSS unless this has security implications”.

Also, lawyers, under the aegis of United Lawyers for Rule of Law Defence, expressed outrage over the alleged midnight invasion of the Lagos residence of the CBN suspended Governor, and his forceful arrest by men of the DSS, describing the development as undemocratic.

In a press statement yesterday by their leader, Hon. Obe Albert, the lawyers argued that arresting Emefiele despite a subsisting court order barring his arrest was against the norms of the rule of law.

They subsequently called for his release out of respect for the court and the rule of law.

Similarly, the Niger Delta Rights Advocates (NDRA) have alleged infractions on the rights of the suspended CBN governor following the manner he was arrested by men of the DSS.

The National Coordinator of NDRA, Bright Ngolo, said: “The group is constrained to draw public attention to an obvious infraction on the rights of Emefiele, who until Friday was the CBN Governor.

“The reports we have is that operatives of the DSS stormed the Lagos residence of Emefiele in the dead of the night, blindfolded him and forcefully took him away in a manner suggestive of abduction.

“As Rights Advocates, we should not live in a nation where all manner of gestapo style arrests will be made in the name of getting people to question them or account for perceived misdeeds. Mr Emefiele could be invited for questioning at any time since no Nigerian is above the law.

“However, we are also concerned that there is a judgement by a competent court in suit no GAR/CV/41/2022 instituted by the Incorporated Trustees of the Forum for Accountability and Good Leadership, wherein Justice M.A. Hassan barred the DSS, Attorney General of the Federation, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria, who are listed as 1st, 2bd and 5th defendants from arresting Emefiele.

“Our call for the authorities to respect the rule of law by challenging and setting aside Justice Hassan’s judgment has nothing to do with the propriety or otherwise of his removal from office as CBN governor. NDRA wants the due process of the law to be followed in pursuing the Emefiele case rather than painting the picture of repression of the rule of law.

“We call on all agencies of government therefore, to respect the rule of law as a confirmation that democracy has taken root in our country and no institution or agency of government can just wake up and overreach its bounds”

Investigate INEC, not CBN – LP

The leadership of the Labour Party, on its part, faulted the suspension of Emeifele, describing the President’s action as vindictive and unconstitutional.

Acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, Obiora Ifoh, said this in Abuja, yesterday.

He said, “Labour Party is disturbed by the decision of President Tinubu to suspend Emefiele, albeit unconstitutionally without seeking the permission of the National Assembly and we insist that the action was not in good taste and sounds punitive.

“This is what Nigerians will face in the APC government, where perceived enemies are dealt with, perceive opposition parties and their members are dealt with, even when they are protected by the law.

“If indeed, there is any government agency that should be investigated with this utmost urgency, should it not be the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu?

“This is the institution that is responsible for the mockery of our democracy. This is an institution which asked for and received N355 billion in taxpayers’ money to conduct the worst ever election in the history of Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.

“This is an election umpire that has shamelessly chosen to be partisan during and after the election, even at the tribunal.

“We urge the APC-led government to carry out a thorough investigation of the CBN and particularly, the last APC government’s interference in the operation of the apex bank.

“Nigerians will not tolerate political and peripheral investigation. We suggest a forensic auditing by an independent firm and by so doing, maybe the real culprits, not just Emefiele will be unearthed.”