Court action prevents DSS from arresting Emefiele for terrorist funding

A federal high court in Abuja has denied the request by the Department of State Services (DSS) to arrest and imprison Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Justice JT Tsoho, the chief judge, ruled that the secret police had not provided sufficient evidence to support their assertions that Emefiele was involved in terrorism funding and economic crimes, and so denied the applicant’s ex parte application.

According to reports, the judge ruled that he should have been informed of any supporting evidence for the claims made in the application (case number FHC/ABJ/CS/2255/2022).

The court noted the serious consequences for the Nigerian economy if the CBN governor is arrested and incarcerated and stated such an application should have been backed by the permission of the president.

Given the potential effect the redesigned naira and cash withdrawal restriction may have on vote-buying in the 2023 elections, some have speculated that the attempt to arrest Emefiele could be political.

Several politicians have claimed that the redesigned naira is an attack on them, but President Muhammadu Buhari has stood with Emefiele.

On Monday, a coalition of non-governmental organizations warned that there was an effort to have Emefiele accused of terrorism in order to get rid of him in power.

DSS has issued a warning to the Nigerian public about being exploited to “undermine” its probes.

DSS Spokesperson Peter Afunanya said in a statement released on Monday that the agency will not be deterred by attempts to deploy “propaganda” to discredit its legitimate investigations.

As Afunanya put it, “examination of problems of national security significance” is one of the DSS’s responsibilities. Since its inception, it has carried out its duty in the best interests of all Nigerians.

“As such, the Service will continue to disseminate actionable intelligence to the relevant authorities devoid of any sentiment,” the statement reads.

“While professionally discharging its mandate, the DSS pledges to remain focused and unbiased. It will not, by any means, succumb to propaganda, intimidation and the desperation of hirelings to undermine it.

“It will also not give room to the use of falsehood and deceit to misdirect public understanding and perceptions of issues of national importance.

“Given not to join issues, the Service warns those on a wild goose chase to be mindful of their actions. Similarly, it urges members of the public to disregard the vituperations and rantings of misguided elements and not allow themselves to be used as instruments of destabilisation.

“Notably, these elements should remember the famous axiom that ‘you will only deceive some people, some of the time, but not all people, all the time’.

“To put it succinctly, the Service will not be distracted by persons and/or groups from carrying out its duties to the Nation, citizens, and, President and Commander-in-Chief.”

Afunanya asked Nigerians to “avoid being used to thwart or undermine the Service and its lawful investigations as those who wish to act in the breach will be dealt with in accordance with the law”.

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