The Department of State Services is likely to approach the court on Tuesday to obtain an order to keep the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, in its custody for as long as his interrogation will last.
A source in the DSS confided in one of our correspondents that the secret police would likely approach the court to obtain an order to detain the suspended CBN boss for an indefinite period to allow for unfettered interrogation.
President Bola Tinubu had on Friday suspended Emefiele from office with immediate effect.
This was sequel to the ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the financial sector of the economy, according to a statement by the Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey.
According to the statement, Emefiele was directed to immediately hand over the affairs of his office to the Deputy Governor (Operations Directorate), Mr Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi, who will act as the CBN governor pending the conclusion of the investigation and the reforms.
The suspended apex bank boss was arrested in Lagos on Saturday by DSS operatives and flown to Abuja in a private jet.
A viral video showed the suspended apex bank boss driven to the tarmac in an unmarked Hilux van accompanied by security agents. After disembarking from the vehicle, he was escorted into a waiting plane where security operatives were waiting to receive him. One of the operatives, who closely followed Emefiele, had in his hands a pair of handcuffs.
The source stated, “He (Emefiele) is going to be with us for some time. We may obtain a court order to further detain him. The previous charges against him are there and further investigations may add to that. You know that he is a big man, and we have to make sure that the loose ends are tightened before we take him to court.
“Recall that we were looking for him before his suspension. Now that we have him, we will hear from him; hear what he has to say on those issues we have highlighted before.”
The source added that the DSS had assembled a team of crack interrogators to quiz Emefiele on wide ranging issues, including alleged terrorism financing and mismanagement of the economy and the apex bank.
“We have a team of interrogators, who are going to quiz and obtain statements from him. We won’t bungle our case. But honestly, Nigerians need to know what happened and why we were looking for him the other time,” the source added.
Meanwhile, Emefiele’s arrest is a precursor to the imminent purge of the top echelon of the apex bank.
It was gathered on Saturday that other top directors of the CBN would be interrogated in the coming weeks as part of a comprehensive probe of Emefiele’s administration as directed by the President.
Dependable sources said the secret police would likely go after senior officials in the procurement department of the CBN as well as special advisers to the embattled governor.
A source stated, “One of those under the radar of the DSS is a special adviser to the CBN governor.
“He retired from the CBN in 2021 as a director but was retained by Emefiele as a special adviser. He is believed to have an inside knowledge of all the actions taken by Emefiele.
“Other subjects of interest are senior officials and directors in the procurement department. The fact is that many top directors will be invited or arrested for questioning in the weeks ahead.”
One of our correspondents learnt that Emefiele, his aides and other top directors would be grilled on a number of issues relating to loans worth billions of naira given to farmers under the Fadama scheme, which were believed to have been marred by fraud; the controversial sale of Polaris Bank, which was also allegedly fraught with irregularities; alleged financing of the Indigenous People of Biafra by the suspended CBN boss, and other allegations bordering on forex fraud.
The CBN chiefs are also expected to answer tough questions on the apex bank’s fiscal policies, including the handling of the naira redesign policy, which led to the scarcity of naira notes and caused a nationwide economic crisis, resulting in riots, attacks on banks and death of some citizens.
“Their level of complicity will determine if they will retain their jobs or face prosecution at the end of investigation,” another source stated.
Earlier on Saturday, the spokesman of the DSS, Dr Peter Afunaya, confirmed that the suspended CBN governor was in the custody of the agency and would undergo interrogation.
He said in a statement, “The Department of State Services (DSS) hereby confirms that Mr Godwin Emefiele, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is now in its custody for some investigative reasons.
“The public, particularly the media, is enjoined to apply utmost caution in the reportage and narratives concerning this.”
This was a follow-up to an earlier statement by Afunaya in which he said Emefiele was not yet in the custody of the secret police.
Home, office deserted
Indications also emerged on Saturday that the DSS might conduct a search on the residence and office of the suspended apex bank governor as part of its investigation.
Another source in the secret police said, “He (Emefiele) has been on the watch list of the service for long, now that he has been arrested, he will be spending the night in custody at our headquarters and may not be released anytime soon. There is also the likelihood of his residence and office being searched in furtherance of the service’s investigation.”