Finance experts and lawyers have advised the federal government to call the Department of State Services (DSS) to order as the prolonged detention of the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, is sending dangerous signals to offshore and local investors who now see the country as a gangsters’ paradise where the rule of law is not respected.
They wondered why it took a high Court ruling by Hamza Muazu to galvanise the DSS to charge Emefiele to court, having detained him for close to a month, contrary to constitutional stipulations.
But the DSS, in a recent statement, insisted that Emefiele had been charged to court since June 2022.
It added that though Emefiele obtained a restraining order from an FCT High Court, the Service, however, arrested him in June, 2023, on the strength of suspected fresh criminal infractions/information, one of which forms the basis for his current prosecution.
But commenting on the matter, a finance analyst and Chief Executive Officer, Dairy Hills Limited, Kelvin Emmanuel said that the culture of impunity with which law enforcement and security agencies use the instrumentality of state to administer cases in which there are allegations of breaking the law is worrisome.
“Regardless of the alleged offences of the suspended CBN Governor, Sections 35 says “any person who is arrested or detained shall be informed within twenty-four hours of the facts and grounds for such arrest or detention.
“Section 36 also says a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by the court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such a manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.
“It is therefore unconstitutional that the suspended Governor of the Central Bank has been kept in detention for nearly a month against the provisions of the fundamental rights act as stipulated in the 1999 constitution.
“The rule of law is one of the most important metrics foreign investors use as a tool to measure the ease of doing business, and grounds for which to deploy capital into a country. The Government needs to understand that every single thing it does is a signal to international investors on how issues on ‘’fair hearing’’, ‘’fundamental human rights’’, ‘’equality before the law’’ and ‘’independence of the judiciary’’ is situated”, he said.
Also commenting, Inibehe Effiong, a Lagos-based human rights lawyer said it was totally unconstitutional and ridiculous to keep Emefiele or any other person in custody for over 30 days and the reason for detaining the person is possession of unlicensed firearms.
“It shows that the agency is not serious, it shows that the government is not serious, it shows that they have taken Nigerians for a fool because what they said was on the insinuation that Emefiele was being detained for alleged terrorism financing.
“Now, if you are now charging him for illegal possession of firearms and this is a charge that came about after his house was invaded, then it means that they are telling us that before his house was searched, they had no reason to have arrested him. “Why is it the DSS that is now the one investigating the case of physical possession of firearms.
That is supposed to be within the jurisdiction of the police because it does not necessarily affect the internal security of the country, which is what the DSS is statutorily empowered by the National Security Agencies Act to do.
“So, if it this is what led to the detention of Emefiele, then it only gave credence to the position some of us took ab-initio that this case is political and that why Emefiele may have committed some infractions, the intention of the government is not necessarily to punish him for that infractions but to prosecute him and to punish him for standing against the candidacy of Tinubu and APC. That is what this looks to be about. If the charge is not about getting back at him for being against Tinubu, why would you keep him for one month to arrest for illegal possession of firearms.
“You have found the firearms and if the person does not have a license, then such an offence should have been charged within 24 hours.
“This is what we have been saying about this agency that it is now a political tool in the hands of occupants of Aso Rock and it makes nonsense of the entire case.
“We have said that you cannot prosecute Emefiele for the naira redesign policy which Tinubu was vehemently against because it is a policy of the government and so whether that policy is successfully implemented or not is not a crime. I think time has come for Nigerians to be told what is actually the mandate of the DSS. Illegal possession of firearms is a matter that the police should handle and not DSS”, he explained.