Buhari grants Emefiele study leave to flee Nigeria before Tinubu’s inauguration
Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria has reportedly been granted study leave by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This opportunity for Emefiele to flee the country before Buhari leaves office on May 29, 2023, comes amid corruption and terrorism-financing allegations against him.
However, SaharaReporters learnt that the country’s secret police, the Department of State Services, which made futile attempts to arrest and detain Emefiele in the past over the damning allegations against him, is not happy about the prospect of seeing the CBN governor evade justice.
“The DSS has kicked against the study leave reportedly granted to Emefiele as it means he will flee the country before May 29 when another government comes in,” a source said on Friday.
Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress will be sworn in as Nigeria’s new president on May 29 barring any court judgement to the contrary as his election victory is being challenged at the election petition tribunal.
The DSS accused Emefiele of sabotaging the economy, financing terrorism and committing other economic crimes.
Top government sources shared with SaharaReporters how the investigation linked Emefiele to a well-known terror financier, whom the apex bank governor had sent funds for onward transfer to controversial Islamic cleric Sheikh Ahmad Gumi.
Gumi is known for hobnobbing with terrorists and bandits and advocating that amnesty should be granted to them.
In 2022, one of Gumi’s associates, Tukur Mamu, was arrested and detained by Interpol at Cairo International Airport in Egypt while awaiting a connecting flight to Saudi Arabia. Upon his return to Nigeria, he was arrested by the DSS over allegations that he was heading to Saudi Arabia to meet with some international terrorists.
Meanwhile, the secret police said their preliminary investigation revealed various acts of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities perpetrated by Emefiele and his involvement in economic crimes of national security dimension including mismanaging the CBN subsidiary, NISRAL, and the central bank’s Anchor Borrowers Programme.
The secret police also accused Emefiele of “fraud, money laundering, round tripping and conferment of financial benefit to self and others.”
The agency sought a court warrant to arrest the CBN governor but Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, refused to grant the application, citing an irregularity in the procedure adopted by the DSS in its application.
In court documents obtained , the DSS in its application filed as an ex parte motion, sought court permission to detain Emefiele for 60 days to conclude an ongoing investigation into his alleged crimes.
The application was reportedly supported by an affidavit deposed to by a DSS official, Umar Salihu, who summarised the details of the investigations into the weighty crimes Emefiele allegedly committed.
The documents revealed that Emefiele had been funding “unknown gunmen” terrorising Southeast Nigeria.
News men quoted the deponent of the affidavit as saying, “There is reasonable suspicion that the respondent (Mr Emefiele) was involved in terrorism financing, aiding and abetting acts of terrorism, economic crimes of national security dimension and for undermining the security of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
According to Salihu, the agency needed to apply to the court “for an order enabling the applicant to detain the respondent for 60 days, pending the conclusion of ongoing investigation …”
News men had also reported how Emefiele nursed presidential ambition and attempted to vie for the office on the platform of the ruling APC.
After facing opposition from some quarters including within the CBN, Emefiele approached the Delta State High Court sitting in Kwale, Ndokwa West Local Government Area, Delta State, to get an order restraining the apex bank and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from stopping him from contesting the 2023 presidential election.
He eventually backed down after it was clear that he would have to resign from office to contest the presidential primary election of the ruling party.
Also, the DSS had made attempts to arrest Emefiele after accusing him of sponsoring terrorism but a Federal High Court in Maitama, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja issued an order restraining the secret police from arresting the CBN governor.
This ruling, delivered by Justice M.A. Hassan also applies to others listed as defendants – the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the CBN.
Earlier, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja declined an application filed by the DSS to arrest and detain Emefiele over the grave allegations against him.
In declining the motion ex parte filed by the secret police, Justice J. T. Tsoho, the Chief Judge, said the DSS did not provide any concrete evidence to substantiate its claims that Emefiele was involved in terrorism financing and economic crimes.
During the period, Emefiele was out of the country and delayed his stay abroad after claiming he was sick and undergoing treatment.
Upon Emefiele’s return to Nigeria in January 2023 after spending several weeks away, news men reported how the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, deployed military personnel and intelligence officers to ensure that he was not arrested by the DSS.
Sources at the CBN have said that the security personnel that accompanied Emefiele to the bank were larger than that of President Buhari.
“Emefiele has returned to Nigeria. He went to the CBN with massive security. He was given military protection. His security is bigger than that of the President,” one of the sources had said in a terse message to the press.
In March, a former lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani, said Emefiele’s life would be made miserable by the incoming administration of president-elect, Bola Tinubu.
According to Sani, Emefiele’s life and activities under the incoming government will be like ‘Zebra in the hands of Tigers’.
Sani, who represented Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the 8th Assembly made the statement on his Twitter page a week after the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, declared Tinubu as the winner of the 2023 presidential election.
Considering the controversies that have surrounded the Naira redesign and cashless policy under Emefiele’s leadership in CBN and the fact that Tinubu alleged that the Naira redesign policy was targeted at sabotaging his presidential ambition, Sani said, “When Baba is gone, Emefiele will be like Zebra in the hands of Tigers.”