The Manhunt for Emefiele

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On Thursday, President Buhari welcomed Godwin Emefiele, the embattled Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), back to Nigeria during a meeting with other attendees.

This comes after Emefiele’s vacation which commenced in December 2022, was prolonged due to threats of arrest by the State Security Service (SSS) on charges of terrorism financing and economic crime of national security dimensions, unearthed after a “preliminary investigation.” However, following the dismissal of the case by the Federal High Court, Abuja on grounds of lack of evidence provided by the SSS, the veracity of these allegations cannot be ascertained. The SSS’s request for an arrest and detention order was also denied.

Prior to the above allegations, Emefiele was ordered by the courts to pay a total of $53 million. He was served a garnishee order of $70 million as part of the Paris Club refund case in 2020. He has only released $17 million.

The Paris Club Refund concerns a group of creditors, categorised as “contractors” and “consultants”, who  were awarded a sum of $418 million for their involvement in the Paris Club fund recovery. They claim to have assisted in the recovery of state-allocated funds over-deducted by the federal government in the servicing of the Paris Club debt from 1995-2002. Emefiele is accused, in a suit filed by Mr Joe Agi SAN, of refusing to pay the balance owed to a creditor known as Linas International Ltd.

SSS remained adamant on restraining Emefiele for questioning upon his arrival. Following the recent arrest attempts, Nigeria’s elites closest to President Buhari petitioned the president’s intervention in the SSS’ attempts to seize the CBN governor. Upon Emefiele’s arrival into the country, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor is reported to have lobbied the Director General of SSS on behalf of Emefiele. He has pleaded against the arrest and questioning of Emefiele.

It should also be noted that Emefiele attempted to run for the office of president while holding the position of CBN Governor. He purchased a presidential aspirant form priced at N100 million under the banner of the ruling party -the party of President Buhari-, APC signifying an interest in the presidency.

Despite the profound magnitude of the allegations of the SSS against Emefiele, key sections of the ruling class have rallied around him, preventing any substantial interrogation into the allegations. In spite of his personal financial and criminal imputations, Emefiele remains at the helm of the most important financial institution in the country at a time of unprecedented inflation rates, a failed rollout of a controversial currency redesign and surging poverty rates. The bourgeoisie, mobilised on his behalf are demonstrably more concerned with the deliverance of one of their own from scrutiny than the colossal economic mismanagement of Emefiele, which has made life worse for working-class people.

by Iretimide Esther OSUNYIKANMI

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