Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has provided guidance to the Department of State Services (DSS) regarding the handling of the case concerning the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, in order to prevent any mishandling of the matter.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Falana recommended that the DSS properly prosecute Emefiele for his alleged involvement in terrorism financing, as it falls within the jurisdiction of the secret police. Furthermore, Falana suggested that Emefiele should subsequently be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution regarding suspected money laundering and other corruption allegations.
On Friday, President Bola Tinubu suspended Emefiele from his position as the head of the apex bank and instructed the Deputy Governor of Operations, Folashodun Shonubi, to assume the role on an interim basis.
On Saturday, the DSS confirmed that Emefiele is currently in their custody.
Falana, in his Sunday statement, advised the DSS to avoid mishandling the case involving the suspended CBN governor by prosecuting him solely for money laundering and economic crimes, which fall under the jurisdiction of the EFCC. Instead, he recommended that the DSS conduct an investigation into Emefiele’s alleged involvement in terror financing and subsequently transfer him to the EFCC for prosecution on charges of money laundering.
Falana said, “A few months ago, the State Security Service (SSS) levelled grave allegations of terrorism financing, money laundering, and other economic crimes against Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). At the material time, the attempt by the SSS to arrest, investigate, and prosecute Mr. Emefiele was frustrated by the erstwhile Buhari administration.
“However, following the suspension of Mr. Emefiele as the Governor of the CBN by President Bola Tinubu, the SSS quizzed him in Lagos and flew him to Abuja yesterday. According to media reports, the investigation of the suspect by the SSS has commenced. Even though the SSS which initially denied the arrest has since turned round to admit that Mr. Emefiele is in its custody.
“In the case of Dr. Bukola SarakI v. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2018) 16 NWLR (pt. 1646) 433-434, the Supreme Court ruled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission lacks the vires to investigate and prosecute the appellant for the breach of the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. It was for that principal reason that Senator Saraki was freed by the apex court.
“In line with the principle of law enunciated by the apex court in Saraki’s case the SSS lacks the power to investigate and prosecute Mr. Emefiele in respect of allegations of money laundering and other economic crimes.
“Therefore, after investigating the alleged involvement of Mr. Emefiele in terrorism financing the SSS should transfer him to the EFCC for the purpose of investigating the allegations of money laundering and allied offences. Otherwise, the investigation of the case will be bungled by the SSS!”