DSS, Charged Emefiele To Court Over Alleged Possession Of Firearms As Against Corruption, Financial Impropriety Expected By Nigerians  

By Lateef Adegbite

 When Godwin Emefiele, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN,,   was suspended from office by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, over the ongoing investigation of his office and planned reforms of the nation’s financial sector, on Friday,  June 9, 2023, and replaced him with Folashodun  Shonubi, it  gave room for the Department of States , DSS, operatives, to  go after him .

 The secret police had arrested their sworn enemy in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre and flew him back to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, where he had been in detention and undergoing interrogaton by crack team of the agency personnel since June 10, 2023 and now.

In making the Emefiele’s case look too extra-ordinary by keeping him perpetually in their custody, to forestall him from   travelling out or sneak out of the country, may have engrossed close him that he took  the DSS, to Court. 

Emefiele Arrested By DSS Operatives, Being In Detention Since June 10, 2023

 The suspended CBN, governor may have approached the Court   to enforce his right to liberty and freedom of movement as he believes that there was no basis for his continuous detention by the DSS.  In the suit challenging his continued detention by the DSS, Emefiefe had applied that his’’ arrest and detention since June 10, 2023, without valid order of Court   be voided and set aside’’.   

Recall that Abubakar Malami, the immediate past minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, AGF and the DSS had consistently argued that the detention of ‘’the former CBN helmsman was an Administrative decision and therefore Lawful’’.

 At the instance of the former apex bank governor, his Lawyers,   had approached an Abuja HighC Court on Thursday, July 13, 2023, seeking an order that would force the DSS to charge him to Court or possibly release him unconditionally having been in their custody for over a month. The trial Judge, Justice Adamu Muazu, may have gladdened Emefiele’s heart when gave the DSS   one week or release him if there is no established criminal case against him.

  Justice  Muazu, of the Abuja ,High Court , had declared while delivering  Judgment  in the  fundamental  rights  enforcement  suit filed  by the erstwhile CBN, governor , challenging  his continued detention  by the Nigerian government   that ‘’the DSS,   cannot continue ‘’to detain  the former CBN , governor  in their custody  while  looking for evidence  to file a charge  against him in Court’’.

The Abuja High Court trial Judge may have indicted the DSS,   when he said  that  Emefiefele’s arrest and continued detention by the secret police was a breach  of his fundamental  rights as well as  an order  of  the Court last year  which had restrained  the agency from harassing, arresting or detaining  him over charges  bordering  on terrorism, financial impropriety amongst others.

     As prelude to the Court order, Femi Falana, an activist and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, had urged the DSS, Late last June that ’’if it has any evidence of indictment against the ex-CN, governor, it should arraign him in Court without further delay’’.

The Legal luminary had argued that the continued detention of Emefiele and Abdulaziz Bawa, the immediate past Chairman, of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, did not reflect the implementation of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act in Nigeria.

 The Lagos based SAN, had urged the Nigerian government to handle the Emefiele and Bawa’s case with caution to avoid a situation where loopholes that would be created and exploited by   Lawyers, to make a mockery of their trial in Court. Appealing to the DSS to speedily conduct their investigations on the CBN, governor particular, stressing that where allegations had been established, it should not delay in charging him to Court.

With respect to the earlier allegations of money Laundering and otheroffences, leveled against the erstwhile CBN, governor, Falana, had asked the DSS, to take it to the relevant agencies of government, to handle. He may have alluded to the EFCC, which Chairman, Bawa, is already in the secret police Custody.    

    Many believe that going by the way the Emefiele’s case is going, he may eventually laugh last. He may have remained calm and refused to spill the bean that could have roped in top officials of the Buhari’s Administration because he knew that there was no established record of financial impropriety that had beem discovered involving him while in office.

 Hajia Zainab Ahmed, the immediate past minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, had raised alarm over the redesigning and printing of the new N200, N500 and N1000 bank notes but the then Nigerian President may have calmed the situation, claiming  that eEmefiele  had his support and approval to do so.     ‘’I authorized  the  CBN,  to redesign the N200, N500 and N1000, banknotes as a way  to strengthen  the country’s economy  and block areas of leakages  associated with illicit financial flows’’, he had said .

Former President Muha mmadu Buhari

The former President  who is ever ready to defend Emefiele’s actions which in office had said that the government  was forced to take the decision because ‘’the proportion of currency  outside the banking system  grew from 78% in 2015, during his first term in office to 85% in 2022, barely three years to his second  term in office.

He noted that as October , 2022, currency in circulation in the country had risen to N3.23 trillion , out of which only  aboutN500 million was within the banking system , while N2.7 trillion remained permanently outside the banking system, thus distorting the nation’s financial policy  and efficient management of inflation.

He had said that the huge  volume  of banknotes outside the banking  system , which many see as  an indictmentof the embattled Emefiele and his Management Team , has proven to be practically unavailable  for serious  economic activities in the country and by implication , had retarded the attainment  of the country’s potential economic growth.

Recall that he has confirmed reports from the CBN, that since the commencement of the redesigning of the N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes, started, in October 2022, about N2.1 trillion or 80%, out of the N2.7 trillion  outside the banking system  had been successfully retrieved but that is not enough for Nigerians  not  to see Emefiele as someone that had mismanaged the country’s economy.  

Aware of the implications of not charging the suspended CBN, governor to Court  to the image of the Tinubu’s Administration may have forced the DSS, to bow to pressure and obey the Court ruling on Thursday, July 13, 2023, to charge Emefiele to a Lagos High Court on the strength of alleged fresh criminal infractions / information of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and not Corruption and financial impropriety as expected by Nigerians .

The  charge  sheet of the former CBN , governor, dated, July 13, 2023, between  the Federal  Republic of Nigeria and Godwin Emefiele , accusing the later of possessing  a single –barrel  shotgun, JRFF MAGNUM 8371 without a license  being was found  to be  the first count charge levelled against him by the DSS. 

Te second count  charge that was said to have informed why the intelligence agency ,  had taken him  o Court  was the alleged possession of 123 rounds of ammunition  , cartridges without license , contrary to section 8  of the firearms  Act  Cap F28 of the  laws of the Federation 2004, punishable under  section 27 of the same Act, fueling speculations making the rounds that he may go home a free man at the end of  day.

 Security experts believe  that going by  the way the Emefiele’s case, is going  which people had expected would be celebrated one in Nigeria  to serve as a  lesson to other top government functionaries  that a reckoning is coming   as the trial  may  turn out to  be a show case.

 There are insinuations in both official and unofficial circles that with the former apex bank governor being assigned to a trial Judge next week, his Lawyers  will push  to secure an Administrative bail for him.

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