The State Security Service (SSS) has claimed in court filings that the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has been paying “unknown gunmen” and members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The documents give the SSS’s missing information regarding the terrorism financing accusation against Mr. Emefiele for the first time.
The separatist group IPOB wants to create an independent Biafra nation out of the five Igbo-dominated states that make up South-East Nigeria and some of the neighboring states.
As far back as September 2017, a court declared and outlawed the gang that has been held responsible for violent crimes in the South-east region in previous years.
The SSS failed in its attempt to get the Federal High Court in Abuja to issue an arrest warrant for Mr. Emefiele in December, according to reports in the Nigerian media.
After hearing from the attorneys representing SSS, Chief Judge John Tsoho of the Federal High Court declined to accept the request for an order against Mr. Emefile.
In a decision issued on December 9th, the judge denied the application, citing an error in the SSS’s application’s method of operation.
However, the stories were silent on the serious accusations made against Mr. Emefiele by the agency.
Eight weeks after the court gave the decision, the SSS’ court filings providing astonishing dimensions of the agency’s allegations against the CBN governor has been obtained.
In a slew of weighty allegations, the SSS accused him of sabotaging the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, financing terrorism, aiding and abetting terrorism, and committing other economic crimes with effect of undermining Nigeria’s national security.
More specifically, the agency also accused Mr Emefiele of mismanaging the CBN subsidiary, NISRAL, and the central bank’s Anchor Borrowers Programme.
On December 7th, a group of four attorneys from the SSS legal division submitted their complaint against Mr. Emefiele.
However, in contrast to earlier reports that said the application was for an order to have Mr. Emefiele arrested, it actually asked for authorization to hold Mr. Emefile for 60 days in order to wrap up an ongoing investigation into his alleged atrocities.
Because the application was submitted as an ex parte motion, Mr. Emefile was not served with it.
It was backed up by an affidavit signed by SSS official Umar Salihu, who summarized the findings of the serious offences Mr. Emefiele is claimed to have committed.
According to the deponent, “there is reasonable suspicion that the respondent, Mr. Emefiele was engaged in sponsoring, encouraging, and facilitating acts of terrorism.”
He said the agency needed to apply to the court “for an order enabling the applicant to detain the respondent for sixty days, pending the conclusion of ongoing investigation …”
On the need for the court to issue the order, he said Mr Emefiele “is a man of means and can easily evade arrest and interfere with ongoing investigation if he is released on bail.”
Citing “credible intelligence”, the deponent mentioned some specific allegations over which the agency was investigating Mr Emefiele.
The allegations enumerated in the application lack specifics or any hint at what the CBN governor’s motivation to sponsor IPOB and other terrorists’ activities could be.
In about the most horrific of the allegations, the SSS accused Mr Emefiele of funding terrorism, unknown gunmen terrorising the South-east region, the IPOB and its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
The SSS alleged that Mr Emefiele funded them with both the resources he raised for his failed presidential bid last year and funds diverted from government coffers.
As the current governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Emefiele made a contentious run for the party’s presidential nomination last year. Prior to the party’s primary election, pictures of his campaign cars and other materials appeared online.
Additionally, he applied to the Federal High Court in Abuja for a ruling upholding his eligibility to compete for the APC ticket. However, on May 9, the court disregarded Mr. Emefiele’s request.
Mr. Emefiele “procures a number of vehicles and distributed monies for his bungled presidential ambition,” the Nigerian intelligence agency claimed in its report in December.
“The aforementioned funds and vehicles are being channeled into funding of Unknown Gunmen, Eastern Security Network (ESN), and elements of IPOB, a proscribed organization,” it was noted.
In addition, the agency said Mr Emefiele, “on several occasions in actions prejudicial to the security of the Nigerian state,” engaged in “criminal conspiracy to divert government resources into suspicious acts of terrorism financing”.
It said the actions of the CBN governor were “meant to subvert and sabotage” the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
But as weighty as the allegations, coming from the government’s flagship intelligence agency are, Mr Buhari has continued to hold one-on-one meetings with Mr Emefiele since December. This raises questions about whether the president has any regard for the “credible intelligence” the SSS claimed it gathered about the nation’s top banker.
The SSS, which is at the forefront of government’s efforts to quell separatist activities around the country, was holding the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, in custody when it linked Mr Emefiele to the funding of the proscribed group in December.
Neither the Presidency, the SSS nor Mr Emefiele has commented on the allegations.
he SSS also accused Mr Emefiele of “fraud, money laundering, round tripping and conferment of financial benefit to self and others.”
Mr Emefiele is also involved in mismanaging of various interventionist funds of the government under his control, according to the SSS.
Funds belonging to the Social Investment Programme (NISRAL) and the Anchor Borrowers Scheme were among those the SSS accused Mr Emefiele of mismanaging. The two agencies are interventionist schemes to boost food production and encourage farmers.
The SSS also accused Mr Emefiele of mismanaging “other key economic sectors of the economy”.
In another breathtaking allegation, the SSS claimed it was on the trail of members of a criminal syndicate of which Mr Emefiele is allegedly a part.
It said “investigation is still ongoing on a wider scale as other members of the syndicate chain need to be identified and arrested to enable successful prosecution.”
The agency accused Mr Emefiele of aiding and abetting terrorism, and alleged further that he used proxies from his alleged syndicate “to carry out his illegal economic crimes of national security dimension with potent threat to the country’s security.”
However, in denying SSS’s request on December 9, 2022, the court, Mr. Tsoho, drew attention to a problem in the process the organization used to request an order for Mr. Emefiele’s 60-day detention.
He asserted that the suspect should have been taken into custody without a court warrant prior to the secret police making their request.
The judge stated, “This is not the case here, as Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, was shown on television, even last night, having an audience with the President of Nigeria. The petitioner appears to be planning to utilize the court as a front for an improper operation, which is inappropriate.
The judge said “an application of this kind (by the SSS) should have evidence of the approval of the respondent (Emefiele’s) boss (President Buhari), that such measures are authorised to be taken,” owing to the “sensitive position” he “occupies…as one of the key drivers of the nation’s economy.”
“I decline to grant this application ex parte,” the judge declared.
Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the SSS’ allegations against Mr Emefiele robs Nigeria of investors’ confidence in the economy.
“Nobody will want to do business with your country when the head of the Central Bank is a terrorism suspect,” the senior lawyer said.
Emefiele’s entry into politics last year, when he ran for the APC’s presidential nomination while still serving as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, garnered much criticism from Nigerians.
The CBN continues to get flak for subjecting Nigerians to hardships brought on by a lack of the recently introduced naira notes. Nigerians requested the CBN governor to change the policy after complaining about the lack of new naira notes.
At Automated Teller Machines, the sole location where cash can be withdrawn, the redesigned 200, 500, and 1000 notes are difficult to find.
But Mr Emefiele only extended the deadline by 10 days from 31 January to 10 February, which many have said is insufficient to address the acute shortage of the new notes.
Bola Tinubu, the APC’s presidential candidate, criticized the limited supply of the new bank notes and added that it was a plot to undermine his prospects of winning the election in a covert allusion to monetary policy.
Mr. Emefiele said that old naira notes would still be accepted by banks even after the deadline of 10 February when testifying before the House of Representatives.
Joshua Alobo, a law lecturer, had sued the CBN to request a deadline extension.
The introduction of newly designed 200, 500, and 1,000 naira notes into the financial system was announced by the apex bank on October 26, 2022.
But because so many people are lining up at ATMs to withdraw cash, getting access to the new notes still seems impossible.