A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, expressed shock about the detention of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, by the State Security Service (SSS).
He said Mr Emefiele’s suspension was understandable, but added that the confirmation of SSS that the suspended CBN governor was in its custody “comes as a shock”.
Mr Agbakoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, in a short press statement, wondered which role CBN would play in the matter.
“The suspension of the Governor of the CBN from office is not a surprise as his tenure was way beyond monetary policy. But confirmation by DSS that Governor 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 Ememfiele step forward, but this excludes the DSS, unless this has security implications,” the statement read.
Mr Emefiele was, on Saturday, taken into custody by Nigeria’s secret police, the SSS, hours after President Bola Tinubu suspended him from office.
“The Department of State Services (DSS) hereby confirms that Mr Godwin Emefiele, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is now in its custody for some investigative reasons,” Peter Afunanya, the spokesperson for the agency, said in a press statement he shared with PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Afunanya did not provide details of when and how Mr Emefiele was arrested and where he is being kept. However, PREMIUM TIMES learnt the banker was picked up from his home in Lagos and then flown to Abuja guarded by a detachment of operatives. He was then driven to the SSS’ headquarters in the Asokoro District of the nation’s capital where sources said he was being quizzed.
There were speculations Friday night that the SSS arrested Mr Emefiele shortly after he was suspended. But the law enforcement agency tweeted Saturday morning, saying the top banker was not in its custody.
It is unclear why the SSS is holding the embattled official. But the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation said Friday that his office, the CBN, was under investigation.
The SSS and Mr Emefiele have had a turbulent relationship recently. Last year, the agency accused the governor of a barrage of offences.
The SSS secretly requested a court order in December to arrest him on allegations of “financing terrorism, fraudulent activities, and economic crimes of national security dimension.”
This request was, however, rejected by the Federal High Court in Abuja because the secret security unit failed to present sufficient evidence to justify issuing an arrest warrant against Mr Emefiele.
Mr Emefiele also faced criticism due to his controversial foray into partisan politics, which saw him contest for the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressive Congress. Although the governor tried to deny his involvement in partisan politics, support groups were calling for his emergence as flagbearer of the ruling party.
The governor’s unprecedented involvement in partisan politics attracted widespread condemnation, with experts expressing worries about the governor’s impartiality and the autonomy of the CBN.
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