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DSS flouts court order, rearrests Emefiele

DSS flouts court order, rearrests Emefiele

In what human rights lawyers have described as acting above the law, officials of the Department of State Service (DSS), on Tuesday, rearrested Godwin Emefiele, the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), after a Federal High Court, in Lagos, granted him bail.

Emefiele was charged by the office of the attorney-general of the federation under the ministry of justice. He was arraigned at about 9:21a.m, before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, on a two-count charge of illegal possession of firearms.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum.
The court had adjourned the case until November 14 for trial and had ordered a remand of the defendant in the correctional service pending the perfection of his bail.

After the case was adjourned, Emefiele remained in the courtroom for several hours.

It was gathered by newsmen who equally waited all the time in the court premises, that the defendant may likely be re-arrested by the DSS, whose armed operatives were at the court.

When a senior officer of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) attempted to take the defendant into custody in line with the court’s directive which ordered his remand pending perfection of bail, the DSS resisted the move.

After a faceoff between men of the DSS and NCoS, the defendant was eventually intercepted by the DSS when he stepped out of the courtroom and taken away in a police vehicle at about 3:15 pm.

The DSS officials did not provide any explanations as to why they violated the court of the court for Emefiele to be remanded in the custody of the NCoS pending the perfection of his bail conditions.

The men of the DSS also ordered journalists to move out of the vicinity while brandishing guns, as they pushed aside the NCoS official who attempted to take Emefiele into custody in line with the court order. Visitors to the court were seen running for safety.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Tijani Yusuf, representing Lawyers for the Defence of Democracy and Human Rights, has called on Yusuf Bichi, the director-general of the DSS to resign.

Yusuf, who addressed journalists at the court’s premises, after the ruling on Emefiele’s case, said Bichi must resign his position for continued disobedience to court orders and inhumane treatment of the suspended CBN governor.

Emefiele was appointed the CBN governor in 2014. He is the first to serve two terms as the head of Nigeria’s apex bank in nearly 20 years. Then President Goodluck Jonathan first appointed him in June 2014, after Sarah Alade served out the term of the Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

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In April 2022, the Emefiele Support Group (ESG) claimed responsibility for procuring campaign materials, including branded buses, for Godwin Emefiele’s potential presidential bid. The appearance of these campaign buses sparked reactions, with some calling for his resignation. Emefiele neither confirmed nor denied the rumours until March 28, 2022, when he stated that he had not decided on his presidential aspiration.

Dismissal of Emefiele’s presidential ambition:

In May 2022, a Nigerian court in Abuja dismissed Emefiele’s request to prevent his disqualification from pursuing the presidential ticket. The court summoned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the attorney general to present their sides in the case.

Emefiele’s disappearance and controversies:

Godwin Emefiele returned to Nigeria from the United States, where he had attended a summit with President Buhari. He kept a low profile amid reports of a plot by the DSS to interrogate him. The DSS had accused him of terrorism financing, but a Federal High Court declined the agency’s request for his arrest.

Emefiele with DSS:

In January, there were reports in the local media that the DSS had applied with reference number FHC/Abj/CS/2255/2022 and sought permission from the Federal High Court in Abuja to arrest and detain Emefiele.
The secret police said its preliminary investigation revealed various acts of terrorism financing and fraudulent activities by Emefiele. It also accused him of being involved in economic crimes of national security dimension.

But a Federal High Court in Maitama, Abuja, issued an order restraining the DSS from arresting, detaining, or questioning Emefiele.

The DSS accused Emefiele of fraud, money laundering, round tripping and conferment of financial benefits to self and others. Other corruption issues, such as the “Ways and Means, still hang around the suspended governor’s head.

According to human rights activist, Sesugh Akume, under the administration of Emefiele, the bank never followed the principles of “ways and means” loans and moved from N789.6 billion in May 2015 to N22.7 trillion in May 2023.

Suspension:

On June 9, 2023, Bola Tinubu, Nigeria’s president, suspended Emefiele as governor of the central bank from office.
“This is the sequel to the ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the economy’s financial sector,” said Willie Bassey, director, Information at the office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Second encounter of Emefiele with the DSS:

Given his suspension, he was arrested by the DSS for investigations.
However, Emefiele approached the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja, to challenge his detention by the DSS.