Emefiele: New day new allegation

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By Luke Onyekakeyah

The continued hounding of Mr. Godwin Emefiele the immediate past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the ground of purported fresh allegations underscores the disordered order of Nigeria and and its judicial system. That those persecuting Emefiele have no clear picture of the offence (s) he committed that warranted his arrest and detention but have to literally search the Internet o dig out possible offenses to lay on his head is reprehensible and confounding. It’s like government wakes up to fresh allegations every other day. The trend makes a mockery of the judicial system in Nigeria.

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Elsewhere, the right thing to do is to charge Emefiele to  court and prosecute him accordingly or in the absence of any prosecutable charge release him, which would bring honour to the country as well as preserve his human rights. But none of these is happening. There seems to be a heightened desperation to nail Emefiele by all means possible and teach him a lesson of his life. Latest developments on the Emefiele saga seem to point to a predetermined dehumanising outcome.

For instance, the sudden and unexpected change of the case jurisdiction from Abuja to Lagos may be with ulterior motive, a political point job as it were.  Obviously, while Abuja portrays a pan Nigeria nationalistic outlook with a  not my own’ mentality,  Lagos is not like that but carries a Yoruba sectional interest that can easily be manipulated. It needs to be seen how Emefiele whose work base is in Abuja will be  given fair trial in Lagos.The question is why transfer the case to Lagos? What is the reason?

The fresh allegation that Emefiele spent N17bn to print N748bn appears ludicrous. It looks like a high-powered propaganda and falsehood deliberately cooked with the sole aim of painting Emefiele black, a smear campaign as it were. This sort of allegation makes one wonder if the CBN is a one man business in which Emefiele had unlimited and unrestricted freedom to do whatever he likes.

The question is, was there no board of directors at the CBN that sat over such an important matter like currency printing to analyse the cost and expenses involved? Was President Buhari, under whose watch the transaction was executed not aware of what was going on? Did Emefiele single handedly conceive, contract, discuss and approve  the transaction, as that was the only way he could have succeeded in ripping the CBN of the alleged sum. Otherwise, how did water enter into the coconut? Is there no due process that should be followed in a matter relating to currency printing? Was the board hypnotised not to know such sleeze? That is not the end.

There is yet another allegation that a staffer – a dispatch man  – or so, testified that he collected the sum of $600,000 bribe for Emefiele.This appears spurious until it is proven. The nitty-gritty of the corrupt transaction needs to be proven. Since when did bribery become an open transaction that tphe Governor of the CBN would send a dispatch man to go and collect such a huge sum on his behalf? It is akin to many false witnesses appearing before Pilate to accuse Jesus all with the sole aim to crucify him. I am imagining how Emefiele would opt to send a dispatcher to go and collect bribe for him. It is laughable.

It is not surprising that as part of this heist, these allegations are being orchestrated by some affiliate media platforms that hype only the biased aspects against Emefiele. In the same vein, the Senate appears to be goaded to join the fray with the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio making uncomplimentary statements against Emefiele. The Senate President should be reminded that we are in a democracy with clear and distinct responsibility between the executive, legislature and judiciary.  In a matter like this, the Senate is supposed to observe decorum and allow the courts to do their job. Therefore, Akpabio’s interference is totally ill-motivated and in bad taste.

Around the sane world, a person of Emefiele’s standing will be treated with some modicum of dignity. He would not be arrested on frivolous allegations. In places like China, Japan, Korea and elsewhere in Europe and America, before a man of Emefiele’s status is arrested, there would be air-tight and irrefutable allegations with concrete evidence to convict him in court. And without undue delay, he is arraigned in court and swiftly prosecuted and convicted or acquitted as the case may be. In the event that the allegations were unproven, he will be released forthwith without an attempt to tarnish his image because he is entitled to his human rights. There will be no witch-hunting or sentiment inspired blackmail.

But here in Nigeria,where law and order are turned on their head,  there is human rights abuses as impunity and ethnic sentiments reign supreme. Emefiele, an erstwhile Governor of the CBN was picked up since June 10, 2023. After nearly a year after, he is still being held without any charge preferred against him. Rather than let him go, he is being subjected to a most inhuman treatment like a common criminal.

I have stated without equivocation earlier that nobody is against the move by government to curb the corruption monster that has eaten the fabrics of the Nigerian society. We all support the fight. Therefore, it is absolutely in order to arrest a suspect after investigation has been conducted and it is established evidentially that the person has a case to answer. Having said that, I must reiterate that it is offensive, indeed loathsome to clamp down on anybody with arrest without readily having charge (s) to prefer against him or her as the Nigerian government is doing.

As it were, Emefiele has, since July 2023, been dragged from one court to another on frivolous charges bordering on arms possession in the first instance to a cocktail of seventeen spurious allegations listed by Mr. Jim  Obazee, President Tinubu’s special investigator all to no avail. Both the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have separately thoroughly investigated Emefiele and came out with nothing. The other day,news broke out that President Tinubu has contracted Deloitte consulting to still investigate Emefiele to the chargrin of bewildered Nigerians. While the outcome is being awaited, government is rolling out fresh allegations on which to arraign Emefiele. What is President Tinubu looking for? What does he want to do with Emefiele?

At this juncture, I would like to state that the trial of Emefiele is a trial of the CBN as an institution and Nigeria as a country. All the negative implications affect all of us. To the best of my knowledge, Emefiele’s trial as Governor of CBN is the first of its kind in Nigeria. Because of the high honour and reverence the CBN governor commands, it is not common to arrest these personalities and put them on trial. The reason is simple – the CBN governor carries the aura of high integrity that supposedly insulates them from engaging in fraud or any untoward practices.

Unfortunately, changing times and bitter politics of hatred Have dragged all of us into the mud. The whole world is watching the Emefiele drama with consternation. After exposing the CBN to ridicule, many foreign investors will be afraid to come to Nigeria. For a man that presided over the affairs of the CBN to be treated like a common criminal says much about Nigeria. It sends a message to the world that nobody can be trusted in Nigeria. That is why there is no regard for any Nigerian outside the shores of this country. Not long ago, for instance, our reverred Professor Wole Soyinka was reportedly mistreated in Johannesburg in South Africa. Several other Nigerians have been subjected to humiliating and inhuman treatment at different airports around the world.

That reminds me of an encounter I had with an immigration officer at the JFK International Airport in New York. That was in 2007. I landed at the airport from Lagos and picked up my box. An immigration officer waved to me to come to his stand. I went. He opened my bag and saw my Bible which I usually carry when I am on such trip. Immediately he saw the Bible, he ordered me to follow him to his office. Once in the office, he emptied the contents of my bag on the floor and screened every item. I was totally embarrassed. He asked me what I do in Nigeria. I told him. He Googled my name and found it. I told him that I carry my Bible whenever I travelled. He said in Nigeria, everybody is a pastor and they are the criminals. When he was done, he asked me to repack my bag and leave. That is the extent we have made ourselves endangered species both at home and abroad. President Tinubu should help to redeem Nigeria’s battered image and not further drag it to mud through untoward actions.

Dr Luke Onyekakeyah  lives in Lagos

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