Godwin Emefiele, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria briefly regained his freedom on Thursday night after he was released by the Department of State Services (DSS).
SaharaReporters learnt that Emefiele who had been in DSS custody since June 9, was however picked up immediately by the anti-corruption agency Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“Emefiele regained his freedom last night but he was immediately picked up by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,” a top security source told SaharaReporters on Thursday.
It was learnt that the Presidency directed the EFCC to take over the case.
The DSS arrested Emefiele in June, on the same day President Bola Tinubu, suspended him from office with immediate effect.
SaharaReporters had reported that Emefiele was suspended “sequel to the ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the financial sector of the economy.”
A release by Willie Bassey, the Director of Information, for the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, has also said, “Mr Emefiele has been directed to immediately hand over the affairs of his office to the Deputy Governor (Operations Directorate), who will act as the Central Bank Governor pending the conclusion of investigation and the reforms.”
SaharaReporters in February reported how the DSS attempted to arrest Emefiele when Muhammadu Buhari was Nigeria’s president, but the then-Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor, shielded him by providing soldiers to guard his residence and office.
The DSS had said it intensified its investigations in order to arrest and prosecute Emefiele, on allegations of terrorism financing and fraud.
SaharaReporters had also reported that Emefiele was set to be released from detention by the DSS after entering into plea bargaining with President Bola Tinubu’s administration.
SaharaReporters had gathered that the non-prosecution plea bargain for Emefiele was premised upon the former governor’s willingness to return N50 billion which he had corruptly amassed.
Emefiele and his associates were set for arraignment on N6.9 billion procurement fraud at the Federal Capital Territory High Court in August but the arraignment was stalled.
Sources had told SaharaReporters that Emefiele’s arraignment was stalled because the Attorney General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) was awaiting Tinubu’s approval for it after signing the non-prosecution plea bargain. President Tinubu was out of the country at the time.
Emefiele faced 20 counts of conspiracy and procurement fraud levelled against him by the Nigerian government.
“The exclusive deal has been finalised awaiting Tinubu’s order. Tinubu is expected back in Nigeria this weekend after a medical visit to France. The DSS traced N72 billion to a series of accounts which Emefiele had planned to use for his presidential run. Also, $70 million he hid with a couple who specialised in helping him to do round-tripping was discovered,” a top source had revealed to SaharaReporters.
However, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, Modupe Ogundoro, denied the existence of any non-prosecution plea bargain involving Emefiele.
Ogundoro said though the legal team representing Emefiele had expressed its intention in court at the last hearing to initiate a plea bargain arrangement, no such agreement existed between the office of the AGF and the former CBN governor.
On Wednesday, the detained former Chairman of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, was also released by the DSS.
Bawa was released 134 days after he was detained by the secret police without trial.
Bawa was arrested and detained by the DSS on June 14, 2023, following an invite.
The invite followed allegations of abuse of office shortly after he was suspended by President Tinubu.
SaharaReporters reported earlier on Wednesday Bawa had sued the DSS, also known as the State Security Service (SSS), for his continued incarceration without trial.
Bawa in the suit filed at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court for the Enforcement of Fundamental Rights, brought by one Barrister Chinedu Oburu of Edu Oburu & Co. on his behalf, sought an order of the court to declare his detention without trial as illegal and to direct his immediate release.
The suit marked FHC/CS/2108/23 between Abdulrasheed Bawa as Applicant and SSS (DSS) as Respondent was brought Pursuant to Order 11 Rules 1, 2 and 3 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009, Sections 35(1)(4)(a), (5)(a)(b), 41(1), 46 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and under the inherent jurisdiction of the honourable court.
In the suit filed on October 20, 2023, the former EFCC chairman sought the following orders:
“A Declaration that the continued detention of the Applicant from June 14, 2023 till date without Arraignment or Criminal prosecution is a fragrant abuse and violation of his fundamental rights to freedom, liberty and personal dignity.
“An Order directing the Respondent to immediately release the Applicant from custody.
“And for further or other Orders as the Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.”