BREAKING: Emefiele: Prosecution or persecution?

By Luke Onyekakeyah

THE traumatic ordeal which the hitherto Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele has been subjected to in the last couple of weeks is detestable, degrading and unacceptable in any sane society.

While right thinking Nigerians are looking forward to a new Nigeria where life has meaning and citizens are happy and patriotic, actions such as the one being meted to Emefiele, regrettably, paint Nigeria black as a banana republic where there is no law and order. And that being the case, nobody would take Nigeria serious in the international arena for lack of integrity….CONTINUE READING

That a man who for over eight years presided over the exalted office as the Governor of Nigeria’s primal financial institution, the CBN, is being treated like a common criminal is nerve rending. When people at that level are being treated utter ignominy, is there any hope for the ordinary citizen. That is why Nigerians are seen as chicken that can be killed at anytime by different forces acting against them. Nigeria’s powers that be have a penchant to treat people that have served the country in the shabbiest way once they lose favour. The cycle of use and dump is abhorable. Once the one has lost favour with government, he or she is as good as trash, only good for the most inhuman treatment. No human rights whatsoever.

I am not saying that people who abused their high office should not be left unprosecuted. Not at all. What I am saying is that lawful prosecution should follow the due process of law and order and not degenerate into witch-hunting and persecution in the manner Mr. Emefiele and a number of other individuals have been subjected to in the DSS custody. Once prosecution is in place and court orders are flagrantly disobeyed, it is no longer prosecution but persecution/witch-hunting and that is unacceptable.

The Emefiele ordeal has undoubtedly raised eyebrows and serious concern among right thinking people. For more than two and half months running, Mr. Emefiele was picked and clamped into detention by the Department of State Services (DSS). This happened shortly after the inception of the Bola Tinubu administration on May 29, 2023. Since then, the judiciary appears to be helpless with its power eroded as its orders are not obeyed. The impression being given is that the executive is totally in control while the judiciary is helpless. What does this show? It shows a sort of authoritarian disposition of the government. But we are in a democratic dispensation that is supposed to be anchored in the rule of law.

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Since Emefiele was incarcerated without clear charges, proper trial or bail even after several courts have granted him freedom amounts to travesty of justice in what is supposed to be a democratic setting. What kind of democracy are we practicing and how far can the country go with it? Arresting Emefiele is not the problem but to clamp him in detention without charges or trial is blatant injustice.

It needs to be stated that as the Governor of the CBN, Emefiele was under the authority of President Muhammadu Buhari and no doubt operated based on extant financial regulations governing the CBN as an institution. As a result, there was hardly any decision or action that he would have taken unilaterally without approval. If that be the case, why then should he be visited with raw deal as if he was law unto himself?

If the DSS is out to deal with corruption, there are several individuals who should be in chains across board in the last Buhari administration but who are walking freely without hindrance. Therefore, singling out Emefiele only raises eyebrows with people asking why the selective injustice. There were several ministers under the Buhari administration that openly appeared to have shortchanged Nigeria. A case in point is the discredited Nigeria Air project that the minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika championed involving billions of naira that have been swept under the carpet. Why is the DSS silent on that and others?

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There are some other reasons to show that the Emefiele ordeal has gone beyond prosecution but now clear witch-hunting. AS I earlier stated, dragging Emefiele to court is not the problem but refusing to obey court orders is the problem. For instance, since last June, a number of courts have granted Emefiele bail and ordered that he should be let go but the DSS kept detaining him in apparent disobedience to court orders. The penchant to disobey court orders in this clime has tainted the sanctity of the rule of law in Nigeria and it is a big minus. How can the DSS, a critical government intelligence agency always be in the vanguard of disobeying court orders?

Emefiele’s ordeal began in June after he was suspended from office and subsequently arrested by the DSS and hauled to Abuja apparently without any charge. Thereafter, the DSS returned to his Lagos home to conduct a thorough search that in the process, they allegedly picked a shotgun, which then served as evidence. The discovery of the shotgun beclouded the earlier terrorism financing charge leveled against him. The inconsistency in the steps followed to hound Emefiele does not give the DSS good reputation as a trusted agency of government. Its actions in the Emefiele saga appear to be teleguided. Otherwise, after more than two months of investigating Emefiele and nothing incriminating was found on him, why has he not been released? Why is he still in detention in spite of court orders to release him?

It would be recalled that the Federal High Court in Maitama Abuja issued a definitive order on December 29, 2022. In his ruling, Justice M.A. Hassan issued a restraining order to the DSS and other agencies of government for that matter, not to arrest, detain, breach, proceed or interfere with the personal liberty of Emefiele and freedom of movement, or take any other action against him in connection with any other allegation without recourse to this order from the date of this judgment. But it is clear that the DSS has flagrantly discounted this court order thereby giving the impression that it is above the law. What a country is Nigeria where an agency of government would, without qualms, flout orders issued by courts of competent jurisdiction?

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To the ordinary Nigerians, Emefiele’s name is synonymous to currency re-design, naira swap and all the headaches that came with that decision. The other is his desire to contest in the presidential election under the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last 2023 general elections. It is instructive that he is not being hounded based on any of those decisions and actions apparently because the decision to redesign the naira couldn’t have been his personal decision. And as for his desire to contest the presidential election, he was free like any other Nigerian to desire the office notwithstanding the office he occupied. If anything, he ought to have been stopped by the authorities over him but they didn’t….CONTINUE READING

Given the foregoing backdrop, it is obvious that Emefiele is being hounded on frivolous reasons, which explains why the DSS is unable to pin him down to any offense. If that be the case, what is the essence in still detaining him? Why can the DSS and indeed all the security agencies join hands with Nigerians in the quest for a new Nigeria? Justice demands that the DSS follows the rule of law by releasing Emefiele, Bawa and any other still held illegally by them against courts orders issued for their release.