Lawyers Criticize Arrest of Emefiele, Call for SSS Director’s Removal

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Lawyers in Defence of Democracy, a group of legal practitioners, have criticized the State Security Services (SSS) for arresting and detaining the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, while sparing former President Muhammadu Buhari, his principal and approving authority.

The SSS had attempted to arrest Emefiele in December last year but was halted by court orders. Emefiele had faced scrutiny due to the apex bank’s Naira Redesign Policy, which some perceived as targeting Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), during the lead-up to the 2023 general elections.

Speaking on a television program, the Convener of Lawyers in Defence of Democracy, Kingdom Okere, accused the SSS of framing Emefiele and called his arrest illegal, in violation of an existing order from the Federal Capital Territory High Court. Okere demanded the dismissal of the Director General of the SSS, Yusuf Bichi, noting that there was no reason to retain him when President Tinubu had dismissed the Service Chiefs.

Okere highlighted that the SSS had tried to arrest Emefiele in December but succeeded in June 2023, raising concerns about the agency detaining Emefiele for over a month instead of gathering evidence between December 2022 and June 2023. He argued that charging Emefiele based on a subsisting court order was illegal and called for adherence to the rule of law.

Okere emphasized that Emefiele was following orders from former President Buhari, and if there were allegations against Emefiele, Buhari should also be held accountable. He further stated that the SSS found only N300,000 (Nigerian Naira) and a license for a pump-action rifle during the search of Emefiele’s house, dismissing any other claims as falsehoods.

Regarding the SSS’s record of flouting court orders, Okere referred to previous incidents involving the invasion of justices’ homes, which ended unfavorably for the agency. He called on President Tinubu to dismiss the DGSS, Yusuf Bichi, to uphold the rule of law and avoid sending the wrong signals to Nigerians.

In conclusion, Okere urged President Tinubu to replace Bichi with a more competent individual and adhere to his commitment to the rule of law, as stated in his inaugural address. The Lawyers in Defence of Democracy stressed that no one is above the law in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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