The embattled governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, quietly returned to the country on Wednesday, sources in the central bank and the presidency told PREMIUM TIMES.
Emefiele has been out of the country for several weeks amid fears that he will be arrested by State Security Service (SSS) agents who are investigating various allegations against him, including corruption and terrorist financing.
However, a source in the presidency told PREMIUM TIMES that the CBN governor obtained permission from President Muhammadu Buhari for a two-week leave that expired on Tuesday.
“Her vacation ended yesterday, so she has to report to work today,” our source said.
PREMIUM TIMES has also learned that Mr. Emefiele plans to leave the country again very soon, fearing that the secret police will eventually arrest him amid the ongoing power play at the highest levels of the Nigerian government.
“He is trying to leave in the next few days under the guise of attending the annual World Economic Forum,” our source said.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu and Nigerian Central Bank Spokesperson Osita Nwanisobi did not respond to calls and text messages sent to them on the matter by press time on Thursday. in the morning.
SSS seeks arrest
PREMIUM TIMES reported how, in December, the SSS secretly sought a court order arrest Mr. Emefiele. However, the Abuja Federal High Court rejected the SSS’s application.
In the request, the SSS wanted the court to order the arrest of the CBN governor for alleged “terrorist financing acts, fraudulent activities and economic crimes with a national security dimension.”
The SSS filed the application marked FHC/ABJ/CS/2255/2022 in court on December 7, 2022. Mr. Emefiele was the only defendant in the lawsuit who filed ‘ex parte’, meaning that he did not the claim was served on Mr. Emefiele.
But Judge John Tsoho, in a ruling on December 9, denied the request on the grounds that the secret police did not provide sufficient evidence to justify issuing an arrest warrant for Mr. Emefiele.
This newspaper reported how the judge said that the statements contained in the affidavit submitted by the SSS in support of its lawsuit “indicate that the preliminary investigation has revealed various acts of terrorist financing, fraudulent activities perpetrated by the defendant and his participation in economic crimes with a national security dimension”. .”
Rejecting the application, the judge said: “These are certainly serious allegations, but the applicant has not presented any concrete evidence to support them.”
Tsoho also accused the SSS of deception, saying that the secret police did not indicate that ‘Godwin Emefiele’, against whom the warrant was sought, was the same as the CBN governor.
“The defendant in this application names himself as ‘Godwin Emefiele’ without disclosing his status or position anywhere; not even in the affidavit,” the judge said.
Tsoho ruled that considering the sensitive position held by Emefiele, Buhari’s permission should have been sought before arresting the bank manager.
“It is left to speculation whether ‘Godwin Emefiele’ is the same person as the current Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. If he is, then he is unquestionably a high-ranking civil servant in Nigeria and indeed occupies a delicate position as one of the key drivers of the nation’s economy.
“Therefore, such a request must have evidence of the approval of the respondent’s boss, who authorizes the adoption of such measures.”
Emefiele gets lifeguard
Meanwhile, about two weeks after Tsoho issued his order, Emefiele obtained another pardon from a separate court.
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory granted a request by a civil society organization to avoid the arrest of the head of the bank.
A judge, Muslim Hassan, of the FCT court ruled that, based on Mr. Tsoho’s earlier ruling, “any harassment, intimidation, threats, continued movement restriction, abuse of right to office, surreptitious moves to arrest and humiliation” of Mr. Emefiele, on “fabricated accusations of terrorist financing and fraudulent practices” was illegal and unconstitutional.
The judge also prohibited the SSS from “instigating the arrest or from arresting, questioning and detaining” Mr. Emefiele in respect of any matter or political decision on the Nigerian economy “or for any related purpose, except by an order of a High Court”.
Emefiele has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late.
Amid Nigeria’s worsening economic situation, partly due to incorrect CBN policies, including violations of their own lawsEmefiele decided to pursue active politics while retaining his position.
Not only did he join the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), but he sought to be the president of Nigeria on the party platform. Emefiele thus became the first CBN Governor of Nigeria to be openly partisan and seek elective office.
Although he obtained the APC nomination form, he had to withdraw from the presidential race, after allegedly spending billions of naira, including on advertising, due to public outrage and allegedly failing to win President Buhari’s support for his ambition. .
Emefiele has also faced criticism over CBN’s recent policy of redrawing the country’s highest currencies: N200, N500 and N1000. The main bank also set a January 31 deadline for the validity of the old notes.
However, a few weeks before the deadline expires, Nigerians continue to lament the implementation of the policy as new banknotes are in short supply while banks continue to issue old banknotes.
Emefiele’s controversial absence from the nation has been a matter of concern for banking sector stakeholders ahead of the first meeting of the year of the CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), scheduled for January 23. The CBN chief chairs MPC meetings where key monetary policy decisions are made as part of the main bank’s efforts to control inflation, regulate banking operations and stabilize the broader economy.
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