Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says the Department of State Services (DSS) should transfer Godwin Emefiele to the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation.
On Friday, President Bola Tinubu suspended Emefiele and asked him to transfer his responsibilities to Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi, deputy governor, operations directorate.
On Saturday, the Department of State Services (DSS) announced that Emefiele was in its custody for “some investigative reasons”.
Emefiele has been on the radar of the DSS since 2022 over alleged terrorism financing.
The security agency had sought an arrest warrant from a federal high court — but the application was declined on the grounds that there was no evidence to back the claim.
A federal capital territory (FCT) high court later issued an order restraining the DSS from arresting Emefiele.
In a statement on Sunday, Falana advised DSS on how not to “bungle” the case on legal technicalities.
The SAN said the DSS “lacks the power to investigate and prosecute Emefiele in respect of allegations of money laundering and other economic crimes”.
He added that Emefiele should, in turn, be handed over to an agency with the constitutional power to investigate such a case.
“A few months ago, the State Security Service (SSS) levelled grave allegations of terrorism financing, money laundering, and other economic crimes against Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). At the material time, the attempt by the SSS to arrest, investigate, and prosecute Mr Emefiele was frustrated by the erstwhile Buhari administration,” Falana wrote.
“However, following the suspension of Mr Emefiele as the Governor of the CBN by President Bola Tinubu, the SSS quizzed him in Lagos and flew him to Abuja yesterday. According to media reports, the investigation of the suspect by the SSS has commenced. Even though the SSS, which initially denied the arrest, has since turned around to admit that Mr Emefiele is in its custody.
“In the case of Dr Bukola Saraki v. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2018) 16 NWLR (pt. 1646) 433-434, the supreme court ruled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission lacks the vires to investigate and prosecute the appellant for the breach of the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. It was for that principal reason that Senator Saraki was freed by the apex court.
“In line with the principle of law enunciated by the apex court in Saraki’s case, the SSS lacks the power to investigate and prosecute Mr Emefiele in respect of allegations of money laundering and other economic crimes. Therefore, after investigating the alleged involvement of Mr Emefiele in terrorism financing, the SSS should transfer him to the EFCC for the purpose of investigating the allegations of money laundering and allied offences. Otherwise, the investigation of the case will be bungled by the SSS!”