President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has suspended Godwin Emefiele, the embattled governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
It was learnt that officials of State Security Service (SSS) have also arrested him.
Credible sources around the presidency and the intelligence community said Emefiele was suspended because of many reasons, among them his recent role in naira swap and cashless policy that mopped up the entire money in circulation in the country, which nearly truncated the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
Tinubu had, at the height of electioneering, said the naira policy was targeted at him, insisting that he would certainly win the election despite sabotage from official quarters.
Neither the suspended CBN governor nor official spokesman of the apex bank, Isa Abdulmumin, could be reached for comment.
Recall that Emefiele had at various times denied wrong doing, insisting he was discharging his responsibilities as provided by the law.
Some of our sources said Emefiele ought to have been suspended long before the exit of former President Muhammadu Buhari, but he was not.
The sources said they were all appalled by the ‘I-don’t-care-attitude of Buhari’ to all the facts, figures and incontrovertible indicting documents presented to him by various agencies over financial malfeasance of the suspended CBN governor.
It was learnt that the SSS, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and many financial regulatory agencies, both at home and abroad, have issues to grind with the embattled Emefiele.
The announcement of his suspension was contained in a statement released on Friday night by Willie Bassey, the Director of Information, on behalf of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume.
The statement noted that this was sequel to the ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the financial sector of the economy.
“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 CBN governor pending the conclusion of investigation and the reforms,” the reads.
Efforts to get official reaction from the spokesman of the SSS, Peter Afunanya last night proved abortive as several phone calls to his mobile phone were rejected.
He was yet to reply to different text and WhatsApp messages sent to him at the time of filing this report last night. But multiple sources within the secret police told Daily Trust Saturday that the embattled apex bank governor is now in their custody undergoing interrogations.
“Yes, he is here already undergoing interrogation,” one of the sources simply said and hung up when asked further questions.
Another source also confirmed Emefiele’s presence in the facility of the secret police last night.
Long way to suspension
One of our sources said various agencies had carried out investigation on Emefiele and submitted their reports to the immediate past administration for action but nothing was done.
“If anything, the last gift to Emefiele by the last administration was a national honour,” he said.
What the public know
In February, Daily Trust reported that the SSS had stepped up investigations with a view to arresting and prosecuting Emefiele over allegations of terrorism financing and fraud.
An online platform, Premium Times, recently published some of the exclusive details it got from court documents on the controversy around the trail for Emefiele, among them funding “unknown gunmen” and members of the outlawed IPOB.
In the report by the online medium, Emefiele was also accused of sabotaging President Buhari’s administration, financing terrorism, aiding and abetting terrorism and committing other economic crimes to undermine Nigeria’s national security.
It also accused the CBN governor of mismanaging its subsidiary, NIRSAL and the bank’s Anchor Borrowers Programme.
The SSS alleged that Emefiele funded the IPOB/Eastern Security Network (ESN) with both the resources he raised for his failed presidential bid last year and funds diverted from government coffers.
Recall that a team of four lawyers from the legal department of the secret security agency filed its case (ex parte motion) against Emefiele on December 7, 2022, seeking permission to detain him for 60 days to conclude an investigation of his alleged atrocities.
However, on December 9 last year, a Federal High Court in Abuja declined the SSS application to arrest and detain the CBN governor.
In declining the motion of ex parte filed by the secret police, Justice J. T. Tsoho, the chief judge, said the agency did not provide any concrete evidence to substantiate its claims that Emefiele was involved in terrorism financing and economic crimes.
The court said that such an application should have been accompanied with the presidential approval because of the grave implications for the Nigerian economy if the CBN governor was arrested and detained.
Meanwhile, about two weeks after Justice Tsoho gave his order, Emefiele got another reprieve from a separate court as the Federal Capital Territory High Court granted a request by a civil society organisation to prevent his arrest.
Justice Muslim Hassan of the FCT court had ruled that based on Tsoho’s earlier ruling, “Any continuous harassment, intimidation, threats, restriction of movement, abuse of right of office, surreptitious moves to arrest and humiliation” of Emefiele, over “Trumped up allegations of terrorism financing and fraudulent practices” was illegal and unconstitutional.
judge also restrained the SSS “from instigating the arrest or arresting, interrogating and detaining” Emefiele in respect of any matter or policy decision on the Nigerian economy “or for any connected purposes, except by an order of a superior court.”
According to the CBN Act, The government is prohibited from firing the governor or members of its Board but has the right to appoint them with approval from both houses of the National Assembly.
The CBN Act further states that criminal offences and mental health conditions can result in the CBN governor’s termination of appointment.
“The governor, deputy governor or director shall cease to hold office in the bank if he becomes of unsound mind o, owing to ill health, is incapable of carrying out his duties, is convicted of any criminal offence by a court of competent jurisdiction, except for traffic offences or contempt proceedings arising in connection with the execution, or intended execution of any power or duty conferred under this Act or the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act.” The CBN act states.
The governor can also be removed if he “is guilty of a serious misconduct in relation to his duties under this act, disqualified or suspended from practising his profession in Nigeria by order of a competent authority made in respect of him personally; becomes bankrupt.”
The CBN act also gives the presidency power to terminate the appointment of the CBN governor, but it is dependent on lawmakers’ backing.
“The CBN governor can be removed by the president provided the removal shall be supported by two-third majority of the Senate,” the Act added.
Suspension long overdue- Prof. Uwaleke
Professor Uche Uwaleke of the Nasarawa State University, in his reaction, said the suspension of Emefiele was long foretold.
“The president cannot sack the CBN governor, but he can suspend him, which is what he has done.
“Recall that Mr Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was equally suspended from office by the Jonathan administration.
This suspension will mark an end to a turbulent era.
“Godwin Emefiele will be remembered for implementing big ideas, such as the Anchor Borrower Programme, the RT200, the eNaira and a raft of interventions which helped to stimulate the economy during periods of economic recession.
To be fair, Emefiele, to a large extent, succeeded in ensuring financial sector stability going by the prudential ratios. His forex demand management policies, especially the 41 items not qualified for forex, promoted import substitution, conserved external reserves and ensured relative stability in exchange rates. It would be unfair to blame him for the current high inflation rate since most of the causative factors are beyond the control of the CBN.
“On the flip side, he will also be remembered for the currency redesign exercise which didn’t go down well with Nigerians, and the CBN Ways and Means which grew astronomically during his tenure.
“His greatest mis-step was his attempt to join the list of presidential candidates. All said, I think he deserves some rest now,” he said.
The new helmsman at CBN Governor, Shonubi
Mr. Folashodun Adebisi was born on the 7th of March, 1962. He attended the University of Lagos from 1978 to 1983 and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
He further obtained a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1985 with bias in Production Engineering from the same University. From 1988-1989 he shifted grounds to Finance and obtained a Masters’ in Business Administration specializing in Finance.
He began his working experience as a Consultant Engineer at Mek-ind Associates and worked from 1984 to 1989. From 1989 to 1990, he was a Marketing Executive at Inlaks Computers Limited.
He moved to Citibank Nigeria Limited as Head, Treasury Operations from 1990 to 1993. He joined Agusto & Co. Ltd as a Supervising Consultant from 1993 to 1996 from where he moved to MBC International Limited as Deputy General Manager, Banking Operations & Information Technology from 1999. In 1999, he joined First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited as Vice-President, Operations & Information Technology and was there till 2002.
In 2003, he moved from FCMB to Ecobank Nigeria Plc as an Executive Director, Operations & Information Technology and in 2007 he became the Director, Information Technology and Corporate Services, Renaissance Securities Nigeria Limited. He was recruited by Union Bank of Nigeria Limited as an Executive Director, Operations, Technology and Services, September 2009 to April 2012.
He became the Managing Director/CEO, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc from May 2012 to October 2018. October 2018 to date, Mr. Folashodun is the Deputy Governor, Operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) representing the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on the Board of FIRS since the 9th of December, 2019. He is married with children.
On June 9, 2023, he became the Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)