Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has urged the Department of State Securities (DSS) to proceed and arrest the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, upon arrival in Nigeria if the service has concrete evidence against him.
Falana, who pointed out that Emefiele is not one of those constitutionally entitled to enjoy immunity, said the DSS does not need a court order to arrest the CBN Governor if they have a case against him.
This was made known on Sunday night by Falana while featuring on a Channels Television programme, Sunday Politics.
Justice Maryam Hassan of the Federal High Court in Abuja had declined the request of the DSS for an order to arrest Emefiele over alleged terrorism financing and economic crimes of national security after the secret police approached the Abuja court.
The judge thereafter barred the DSS from arresting, inviting, or detaining Emefiele declaring the terrorism allegations against the CBN governor by the DSS as vindictive, callous, oppressive, void and of no effect.
Why the CBN Governor is yet to return to Nigeria
Falana said Emefiele has not returned to the country following allegations of terrorism financing levelled against him by the Department of State Services (DSS).
He said, “I can say without any fear of contradiction that Mr Godwin Emefiele is not in Nigeria; he hasn’t returned to the country because he has been declared wanted by the state security services.’’
Falana described as embarrassing the allegations against Emefiele by the DSS, saying this can only happen in a banana republic where the governor of the apex bank would be accused of a grave offence of terrorism financing.
He said, “Has the government considered the enormous implication of the effect of a wanted governor of the central bank on the economy?
“I am completely flabbergasted that the President of the country has not intervened; either to call the state security to order or to call Mr Emefiele to return to the country or be fired.’’
DSS playing on our collective intelligence
While speaking, Falana recalled that Emefiele’s predecessor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was also accused of terrorism financing in 2014 but won the case.
He said, “These guys play on our collective intelligence because they know we are very forgetful. In 2014, his (Emefiele’s) immediate predecessor, former Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was equally accused of terrorism financing.
“In the same way, he (Sanusi) also travelled out of the country to attend a meeting with the governors of the central banks of West Africa in Niamey, Niger Republic.
“As soon as he landed in Lagos, he was arrested, his passport was seized.’’
The senior lawyer said Sanusi won the case and the court awarded N50m compensation in favour of Sanusi.
There have been suggestions that the recent travails of Emefiele might be political given the likely impact the redesign of the naira and revised cash withdrawal limits may have on politicians and vote buying in the 2023 general elections.
Recall that earlier in December, there had been reports of a huge protest of people numbering over 200 who stormed a Federal High Court in Abuja following a reported suit secretly filed by the DSS, accusing the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, of terrorism financing and other crimes.
The group of civil society organizations had raised alarm over an alleged plot to frame Emefiele for terrorism and remove him from office.
The protesters, who carried placards with various inscriptions, also alleged that the DSS embarked on the plot to remove the CBN governor for political and pecuniary reasons.