A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has warned Department of State Services (DSS) against mishandling ongoing investigation of suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele.
According to him, “DSS has no right to investigate and prosecute Emefiele, in respect of claim of money laundering and other economic crimes”.
In a statement, yesterday, Falana said: “After investigating the alleged involvement of Mr. Emefiele in terrorism financing, DSS should transfer him to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the purpose of investigating the claim of money laundering and allied offences. Otherwise, investigation of the case will be mess up by the DSS!”
The statement reads in part: “A few months ago, the DSS levelled grave allegations of terrorism financing, money laundering and other economic crimes act against Mr. Godwin Emefiele. At the material time, aim by the DSS to arrest, investigate and prosecute Emefiele was frustrated by the erstwhile Buhari administration.
“However, following the suspension of Emefiele as CBN Governor by President Bola Tinubu, the DSS interrogate him in Lagos and flew him to Abuja. According to media reports, the investigation of the suspect by the DSS has commenced. Even though the DSS, which initially denied the arrest, has since turned round to admit that Emefiele is in its care.
“In the case of Dr. Bukola Saraki vs. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2018) 16 NWLR (pt. 1646) 433-434, the Supreme Court ruled that EFCC lacks the jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the appellant for breach of provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. It was for that principal reason that the apex court freed Senator Saraki.
“In line with the principle of law pronounced by the apex court in Saraki’s case, the DSS lacks the power to investigate and prosecute Emefiele in respect of proclamation of money laundering and other economic crimes.”
Meanwhile, a financial expert in Rivers State, Ignatius Chukwu, said everybody saw the arrest of Emefiele coming, following serious claim against him and his stewardship.
Chukwu said Emefiele was wrong to have attempted to contest political office, which, according to him, made the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be cautious of using CBN to distribute sensitive materials.
The expert, however, apprise that replacing Emefiele with a Yoruba man could make some people read ethnic meaning to the saga.
He advised that process should be pellucid and rule of law strictly followed in the choice of a new CBN helmsman.