Former Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, and the Coalition of National Civil Society Organisations, CNCSOS, has tasked the Federal Government with conducting a comprehensive investigation into alleged plots to frame Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele as a terrorist financier by the Department of State Service, DSS.
In a statement, Saraki warned the nation’s security agencies not to be used by politicians ahead of the 2023 elections.
DSS risks sanctions from the Egmont Group
In addition, the Centre for Financial Surveillance and Illicit Transaction Tracking (CSITT) has warned of impending fines from the Egmont Group as a result of the DSS’s unprovoked attack on the central bank governor.
The CSITT Director, John Dimu, said in a statement that “Egmont Group, a 164 countries membership forum that provides financial units with a platform to securely exchange expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing among others, would have suspended Nigeria if DSS had arrested Emefiele.”
Dimu stated that Nigeria risks being blacklisted by global financial bodies as a result of DSS allegations, adding that the suspension of Nigeria from the group, if it occurs, will be embarrassing given that the country has been suspended from the group since 2017 due to a lack of legal framework and autonomy.
“The allegation that the SSS embarked on this plot to remove the CBN Governor for political and pecuniary reasons, is not only a huge shame but against the ethics of the Egmont Group, which Nigeria is a member of. Recall that the group had suspended NFIU, an arm of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, after its plenary in Macao, China, on July 2, 2017. The group suspended Nigeria as a result of its lack of a legal framework and autonomy. It’s quite shocking that DSS could be found being part of this illegal move. We advise DSS to focus on its mandate rather than becoming lapdogs for politicians.”
Chief Willy Ezugwu (CNPP secretary-general and national convener) and Alhaji Ali Abacha (CNCSOs national secretary) stated at a news conference in Abuja that a comprehensive probe will reassure the international community that the rule of law prevails in the country.
Yesterday, CSOs demonstrated in Abuja under the aegis of the Coalition of Civil Society Groups and Youth Coalition (CCSGYG), led by Bassey Williams (President) and Abubakar Ibrahim (Secretary), and urged the DSS against fabricating allegations against Emefiele, arguing that he is not a terrorist.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to admit CBN Deputy Governor in charge of Financial System Stability, Mrs. Aisha Ahmed, in place of Emefiele to brief the lawmakers on the most recent monetary policies of the central bank, particularly the N100,000 weekly withdrawal limit for individuals.
CNPP and CNCSOs utter
Briefing journalists, Ezugwu and Abacha urged President Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, to immediately put in motion the processes of thoroughly investigating the circumstances “surrounding this national and international embarrassment.”
Recall that human rights attorneys and civil rights organizations under the auspices of the Coalition of National Interest Defenders had raised the alarm that the DSS was conspiring to frame the CBN Governor, claiming that they have solid evidence to support their charges against the DSS.
Ezugwu and Abacha continued, “The gravity of what Nigeria was confronted with came to the front burner when members of the group revealed that the DSS had even gone to the extent of approaching the court to obtain a warrant to arrest Godwin Emefiele without the consent or knowledge of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Ezugwu and Abacha continued, “The gravity of what Nigeria was confronted with came to the front burner when members of the group revealed that the DSS had even gone to the extent of approaching the court to obtain a warrant to arrest Godwin Emefiele without the consent or knowledge of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.” “We have all hailed the cashless policy of the CBN such that even the corrupt politicians, who are opposing the cash withdrawal limits acknowledge that it is the way to go but that the timing was wrong. They also sought to get waivers for election spending. Why are they looking for waivers? They want to use our stolen commonwealth to buy our votes.
“In view of the current revelation, we are afraid that the DSS is derailing from its statutory role to becoming a tool in the hands of desperate politicians. This is dangerous for the country and must be discouraged at any cost.
“Those who want to receive and spend money without any traces are those who have been kicking against the cashless policy of the CBN.
“If you have legitimate money, why are you afraid to wire the money through bank transfers? Why are you afraid of cash withdrawal limits? There is no limit to the amount you can transfer through the bank but because they are having stolen money, they don’t want to make traceable transactions and that is the sin of Godwin Emefiele.
“That’s why they want him out of the way before the election so that someone who can do their biddings is appointed to reverse the cashless policy implementation.
“We must note that President Buhari has shown maximum support for the economic stability and reform efforts of the CBN Governor and that was probably why they wanted to remove him from office without the consent of Mr. President.
“We hail the Nigerian judiciary for refusing to be used for the planned hatchet job. It is unfortunate but it happened. According to reports, the affidavit filed by the DSS in support of its application claimed that preliminary investigation had revealed various acts of terrorism financing and fraudulent activities perpetrated by Godwin Emefiele and his involvement in economic crimes of national security dimension but there was no evidence.
“And, in view of a reasonable suspicion that some politicians may have influenced the DSS in the planned arrest of Emefiele, we join well-meaning Nigerians and groups to the call on President Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, to immediately put in motion the processes of suspending and thoroughly investigating the circumstances surrounding this national and international embarrassment.”
Equally, they voiced displeasure with politicians’ manipulation of a noble organization like the DSS to fabricate purported unjustified charges against Emefiele, who, according to them, has done well to keep the economy afloat by reorganizing various economic sectors.
Lord Hannan urged supporters of Nigerian democracy to protect the rule of law
Lord Hannan, Baron of Kingsclere, a member of the Board of Trade and Conservative peer, asked a question in the House of Lords on Wednesday on the alleged actions against Emefiele. He stated, The rule of law, due process, and the independence of public officials: these values matter. They bind us together as Commonwealth nations.
Lord Hannan, Baron of Kingsclere, a member of the Board of Trade and Conservative peer, asked a question in the House of Lords on Wednesday on the alleged actions against Emefiele. He stated, The rule of law, due process, and the independence of public officials: these values matter. They bind us together as Commonwealth nations. “I am not Nigerian. It is not for me to say whether it was time for a redesign of naira notes, or whether such a change will make elections cleaner. But I do feel that friends of Nigeria, and friends of Nigerian democracy, should defend the rule of law there.
“At a time when democracy is in retreat globally, we all have a stake in Nigeria’s success. The country is Africa’s greatest economy, Africa’s greatest population, and Africa’s greatest hope.
“That is why I have raised the issue of the attempt to detain the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, in Parliament. And that is why I hope that democrats on all sides will join Nigeria in supporting the independence of its institutions in the run-up to the 2023 election – including, of course, the central bank.”
Nobody should politicize security or DSS operations — Saraki
In a statement released by his Media Office in Abuja, Saraki stated that the circumstances behind the DSS’s action against Emefiel require greater clarification so as to avoid misunderstanding and a false perception of the motivation.
“As somebody who had been wrongly accused of involvement in the Offa robbery by political opportunists and manipulators before their evil plots now begin to unravel in the court of law, I feel that a similar intrigue is being weaved by those who are bent on sabotaging the 2023 elections as the obvious outcome is not going their way.
“In this court case in which the CBN governor is being accused of terrorism through a suit which the Federal High Court has now described as frivolous and without concrete evidence, my position is not to support Emefiele but to support democracy which is being targeted by the plotters.
“With all the due respect that I have for the DSS, as a very professional security agency, I still found it very difficult to understand what led to the charges, why concrete evidence that will enable the court to take a good decision was not provided and why the Department gave room for suspicion and speculations as the case file has gapping holes as noted by the Judge John Tsoho.
Reps permit CBN deputy governor to brief on cash limit
In the meanwhile, the House of Representatives authorized Mrs. Aisha Ahmed, in lieu of the CBN governor, to brief legislators on the most current monetary policies of the central bank, including the cash withdrawal restriction.
Tuesday, Emefiele informed the House that summoned him last week that he was out of the country on official business.
The communication prompted re-inviting the governor to appear in person or by proxy before the House on Thursday.
However, at yesterday’s plenary, Emefiele informed the House that he was still abroad, stating that he was addressing some health issues and appointing Mrs. Ahmed to head a committee of governors to the briefing.
After receiving the letter, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila begged his colleagues to permit Emefiele’s representative to address the House tomorrow.
However, the House became divided, with some members agreeing with Gbajabiamila and others urging that the representative brief the House Committee on Banking and Currency rather than the entire chamber.
Thursday at 10 a.m., Gbajabiamila ruled, the representative will brief the House on the situation.
Gbajabiamila said “I don’t think there is any question to ask. So, we will expect the team, the committee of governors led by Mrs. Aisha Ahmed, deputy governor, Financial System Stability tomorrow at 10 am to brief the House on the new cash policy as prescribed by the CBN act,”