The passport of Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank Governor who has been placed on leave, has been seized by the Department of State Services. Additionally, it was learned that the service would check Emefiele’s house and workplace this week.
The service detained Emefiele in Lagos and flew him to Abuja on Saturday after suspending him on Friday due to the ongoing investigation into his office and the proposed banking sector reforms.
In a statement, the service’s spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, said Emefiele had been arrested and was being looked into.
A DSS source claimed on Sunday that it was routine practice to detain Emefiele’s travel documents while the inquiry is still ongoing. The source further stated that the suspended CBN governor’s home and office would be searched.
The source said, “Of course, Emefiele’s travel document would be confiscated as part of the standard process pending the conclusion of our investigation. Also, as part of the investigation, his house and office would be searched for documents that can aid the ongoing investigation on his management of the CBN.”
According to our correspondent, additional CBN top directors could be detained or invited for interrogation about their responsibilities in running the central bank.
The DSS may reopen the criminal allegations it previously brought against Emefiele, which are related to fraud and financing terrorism.
Similar allegations of improper management of the CBN subsidiary, the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, and the Anchor Borrowers Programme were made by the secret police against the suspended CBN boss.
Femi Falana, SAN, a human rights attorney, has meanwhile claimed that the DSS lacked the legal authority to look into and punish Emefiele. Falana suggested that Emefiele be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which he claimed had the legal authority to bring charges against Emefiele.
He said, a few months ago, the State Security Service made serious accusations against Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, alleging that he had funded terrorism, engaged in money laundering, and committed other economic crimes. The former Buhari administration obstructed the SSS’s attempt to detain Mr. Emefiele, conduct an investigation, and bring charges against him at the relevant period”.
He however stated after Mr. Emefiele was removed from his position as CBN Governor by President Bola Tinubu, the SSS interrogated him in Lagos before transporting him to Abuja yesterday.
Falana further stated, “In the case of Dr. Bukola Saraki v. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2018) 16 NWLR (pt. 1646) 433-434, the Supreme Court ruled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission lacked the jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the defendant for violating the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act; Senator Saraki was released by the top court primarily because of this reason”.
“The SSS lacks the authority to look into and bring charges against Mr. Emefiele for alleged money laundering and other economic offences, in accordance with the legal basis stated by the Supreme Court in the Saraki case. Therefore, the SSS should transfer Emefiele to the EFCC after looking into his suspected role in financing terrorism”, He continued.