Court rejects SSS request for arrest warrant against governor of CBN Emefiele
The Abuja Federal High Court has dismissed an application by the State Security Services (SSS) to order the arrest of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin’s Emefiele.
The secret police had filed an ex parte request for an arrest warrant for 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, suing Mr. Emefiele as the sole defendant in the ex parte application.
But the judge, John Tsoho, who is the chief judge of the Federal High Court, in a ruling on December 9, rejected the request on the grounds that the secret police did not provide sufficient evidence to justify issuing an arrest warrant against Mr. Emefiele.
The judge said that the statements contained in the affidavit filed by the SSS in support of its request “purport that the preliminary investigation has revealed various acts of terrorist financing, fraudulent activities perpetrated by the defendant and his participation in economic crimes of a magnitude of National security”.
But in rejecting the application, the judge said: “These are certainly serious allegations, but ones that the applicant has not presented any concrete evidence to support.”
He also said that the SSS did not clearly identify the person against whom the arrest warrant was sought. He said it remained speculation whether the person was the same Godwin Emefiele who was serving as CBN governor.
If the target person was the current CBN governor, the judge said it was necessary to get the approval of his boss, presumably meaning President Muhammadu Buhari, for his arrest given the crucial role he plays in boosting the economy.
He said there was no evidence in the SSS application that such approval was obtained.
“The defendant in this application names himself as ‘Godwin Emefiele’ without disclosing his status or position anywhere; not even in the affidavit.
“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.”
With or without a warrant, the judge said the SSS had the power to arrest Emefiele based on reasonable suspicion, but that the agency’s lack of concrete evidence must have led it to seek the court’s warrant for his arrest. serve as a cover for an irregular proceeding. .
“Therefore, it appears that the applicant intends to use the court as a cover for an irregular proceeding, which is unacceptable.
“In light of the above reasons, I refuse to grant this ex parte request,” Mr. Tsoho said.
But giving the secret service another option to proceed with its case, the judge added: “However, if the applicant still wishes to proceed with this application, then he must notify the respondent considering the sensitive public position he holds.”
‘Emefiele in the crosshairs for his economic policies’
The ruling was made public after a protest by a civic coalition, comprising the Arewa Youth Consultative Movement and public interest lawyers, in Abuja on Monday, against what they called an SSS plot to arrest Emefiele for allegedly financing terrorism.
Speaking at a press conference, Tochukwu Ohazuruike, the convener of the group known as the Coalition of Advocates of National Interests, said the move against the CBN governor was a plot by politicians uncomfortable with the bank’s economic reform policy, especially reform. naira designation.
The coalition accused the spy agency of failing to inform Chairman Buhari of its findings against the CBN governor.
Questioning the veracity of the secret service’s claims, the group said that if the SSS really had concrete problems, it would not have allowed Emefiele to travel with Buhari to the United States.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr. Buhari traveled to Washington on Sunday, December 11, to join other African leaders at the US-Africa Leaders Summit.
The president had Mr. Emefiele in his entourage to Washington.
The group called on Mr. Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to suspend, arrest, investigate and prosecute SSS Director General Yusuf Bichi.
He accused Bichi of being used by politicians to thwart CBN’s new cashless policy.
Emefiele has faced criticism over recent CBN policies of redrawing the country’s highest currencies and limiting cash withdrawals to N20,000 per day and N100,000 per week.
Though it has yet to be independently confirmed by PREMIUM TIMES, many have said the SSS decision to arrest Emefiele is a plot engineered by politicians uncomfortable with CBN’s new policies in the run-up to the election. generals of 2023.
The cash withdrawal limits and currency redesignation will reduce the amount of cash politicians can hoard for illicit activities such as voter solicitation and bribery of security personnel and other relevant officials during elections to be held in about two months.
READ ALSO: PDP and APC disagree over Emefiele’s resignation request
Emefiele, since 2014 when he took office, has also faced severe criticism over controversial policies and his handling of the economy.
On his watch, the naira has suffered an unprecedented decline with the currency now trading at more than N740 to the dollar on the parallel market.
Earlier this year, Emefiele covertly, but intensely, pursued a presidential ambition as CBN’s acting governor.
The CBN governor’s unprecedented move to engage in partisan politics sparked public outrage and was widely condemned by several thought leaders, including a Editorial PREMIUM TIMES.
It was also criticized after CBN obtained a court order to freeze the bank accounts of some #EndSARS protesters in 2020.
The bank only backtracked by withdrawing its judicial request that led to the lifting of the freezing order in bank accounts after much criticism from the public.
In reaction to the pro-Mr. Emefiele which criticized the SSS decision to arrest the CBN governor on Monday, the agency warned Nigerians against being used to “undermine” their investigations.
SSS spokesman Peter Afunanya said in a statement Monday that the agency would not be distracted by “propaganda” aimed at undermining its legal investigations.
Afunanya said that SSS had a duty to investigate “matters of a national security dimension” and “always discharged this responsibility in the general interest of Nigerian citizens.”
It urged Nigerians to “avoid being used to thwart or undermine the Service and its legal investigations, as those who wish to act in breach will be dealt with in accordance with the law.”
His statement further said:
“As such, the Service will continue to disseminate actionable intelligence to the relevant authorities without any sentiment,” the statement read.
“While professionally fulfilling its mandate, DSS is committed to remaining focused and impartial. It will by no means succumb to the propaganda, intimidation and mercenaries’ desperation to undermine it.
“Nor will it allow for the use of falsehood and deception to mislead public understanding and perceptions of issues of national importance.
“Since they do not join the trouble, the Service warns those in a futile chase to be aware of their actions. Similarly, he urges members of the public to ignore invectives and tirades from the wrong elements and not allow them to be used as instruments of destabilization.
“In particular, these items should be reminiscent of the famous axiom that ‘you’ll only fool some people, some of the time, but not all of the people, all of the time.’
“In short, the Service will not be distracted by individuals and/or groups from fulfilling their duties to the Nation, the citizens and the President and Commander in Chief.”