Suspended CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, in DSS Custody

The arrest and detention of the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has sparked widespread condemnation. The Department of State Service (DSS) initially denied arresting Emefiele but later confirmed that he is in their custody for investigative reasons. The DSS has cautioned the public, especially the media, to exercise caution in reporting and discussing the matter.

President Bola Tinubu suspended Emefiele from office on Friday night, citing an ongoing investigation into his office and planned reforms in the nation’s financial sector. Emefiele took office in 2014, succeeding Lamido Sanusi, who was also suspended under controversial circumstances by President Goodluck Jonathan shortly before the end of his tenure.

Legal expert Olisa Agbakoba expressed shock at Emefiele’s arrest. In a statement released by his Media Relations Officer, Agbakoba remarked that while the suspension was not surprising given the nature of Emefiele’s tenure, the confirmation of his custody by the DSS came as a shock. Agbakoba questioned the role of the DSS in the matter, as their mandate pertains to internal security, and urged the relevant agency responsible for Emefiele to come forward, excluding the DSS unless there are security implications.

Lawyers, under the United Lawyers for Rule of Law Defense, have expressed outrage over the alleged midnight invasion of Emefiele’s Lagos residence and his forceful arrest by DSS operatives. They argued that his arrest, despite a court order prohibiting it, violates the rule of law. They called for Emefiele’s release in respect of the court and the principles of the rule of law.

The Niger Delta Rights Advocates (NDRA) also raised concerns about violations of Emefiele’s rights during his arrest by the DSS. NDRA’s National Coordinator, Bright Ngolo, stated that the group observed an infringement on Emefiele’s rights, highlighting the manner in which he was forcefully taken from his Lagos residence in what appeared to be an abduction. Ngolo emphasized the importance of upholding the rule of law and avoiding arbitrary arrests. He referenced a court judgment that restrained the DSS, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and the CBN from arresting Emefiele, urging authorities to respect the rule of law by challenging and setting aside the judgment.

The situation surrounding Emefiele’s arrest has raised concerns about the state of democracy and the proper adherence to legal processes in the country. Calls have been made for all government agencies to respect the rule of law, ensuring that no institution or agency oversteps its bounds. The Emefiele case highlights the need for due process and the pursuit of justice within the legal framework, rather than resorting to repressive measures.