The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele, has resumed duty after a long controversial absence and amid reports Monday that operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) invaded the headquarters of the CBN and took over his office.
A statement by the Bank’s Director of Corporate Communications Osita Nwanisobi, said Emefiele resumed from his annual vacation with renewed vigour to perform his duty ahead of the first Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting of the year scheduled for January 23 and 24.
“Mr. Emefiele remains committed to performing the task before him in line with his oath of office and the policy direction of President Muhammadu Buhari,” the statement said.
Although the State Service denied occupying the CBN headquarters on Monday, the speculation about the invasion of the Bank Governor’s office and purported arrest can be traced to the alarm raised by a group of senior lawyers about a week ago, where they accused the SSS of secretly planning to arrest Emefiele, without recourse to the rule of law.
The CBN Governor had been accused of siphoning stamp duty charges to the tune of N89.09tn, among other allegations of corruption and was said to be a terrorist financier.
The SSS had filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja against the Bank Governor seeking an order for his arrest, a request which the court refused to grant on the ground that it lacked sufficient evidence.
Similarly, Justice M.A. Hassan of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory issued an order restraining the Service from arresting and detaining Emefiele over the unsubstantiated allegations.
“In spite of these two categorical judicial decisions, we observe moves to still proceed and sidetrack and disobey the court decisions and unduly and unlawfully interfere with Mr. Emefiele’s fundamental rights.
“The court, as the last hope of the citizen, has made a pronouncement on the legal rights and obligations of citizen Godwin Emefiele, it behooves all agencies of government to obey the order of the court until such order is set aside by an appellate court,” the senior lawyers said in a letter addressed to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
Credibility of the Allegation
Some political analysts have observed that the allegation of financing terrorist activities leveled against the CBN Governor may yet be a time-proven ploy used by the State to unlawfully remove some persons from office.
Human rights lawyer Femi Falana, noted that a former Governor of the Bank Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was ousted from office in a similar manner four months before his due retirement date after he was accused of “financial recklessness, misconduct and far-reaching irregularities”.
Speaking during a Channels TV program, Falana noted that Sanusi was equally accused of terrorism financing and was arrested after returning to the country from Niamey, Niger Republic, where he attended the meeting of the Governor of the Central Bank in West Africa.
“He challenged the government at the Federal High Court and low and behold, in the counter-affidavit filed by the State Security Service, it was alleged that he was being investigated for terrorism financing.
“He won the case according to the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Buba. The allegation of terrorism financing was an afterthought designed to
In the same way, the Center for Financial Surveillance and Illicit Transaction Tracking Group (CSITT) said that Nigeria risked being blacklisted by the Egmont Group, in the face of the allegations against Emefiele, which it insinuated was not unconnected with the new cash withdrawal policy of the apex bank.
The director of CSITT, John Dimu, said in a statement that the plot to remove the CBN Governor for political and pecuniary reasons, was not only a huge shame but against the ethics of the Egmont group to which Nigeria was a member.
The President of Middle Belt Youth Vanguard, Godwin Meliga, who incidentally was arrested about a week ago by operatives of the State Service had hailed the decision of the CBN to redesign the highest denominations of the naira, a development he said would put a stop to money laundering, vote buying, ransom taking and counterfeiting.
Meliga noted that the policy would also put more money in the vaults of the banks with which they can use to finance the formal sector for the benefit of the economy, as well as improve the chances of a free and fair election.
His wife disclosed that the men of the Service had been on his trail and earlier arrested one Samson Babalola who was said to be driving Meliga’s car.
She added that family contacts within the Service had confirmed to them that her husband was arrested for causing the Service untold embarrassment through the exposure of the plot to frame the CBN Governor.
It is believed that Emefiele may not be arrested by the SSS in view of the subsisting restraining court order but might be compelled to voluntarily resign his appointment in the coming days.