REVEALED; Why President Tinubu suspended former CBN Governor from office, ordered probe
The suspension yesterday of Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele by President Bola Tinubu may have been triggered by the probe instituted against him last week by the House of Representatives,.
News of the CBN governor’s suspension was broken by the Director of Information in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation OSGF (OSGF), Willie Bassey.
“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has suspended the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, CFR, from office with immediate effect,” Bassey said in a statement.
“This is sequel to the ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the financial sector of the economy.
“Mr Emefiele has been directed to immediately hand over the affairs of his office to the Deputy Governor (Operations Directorate), who will act as the Central Bank Governor pending the conclusion of investigation and the reforms,” he added.
The apex bank’s deputy governor in charge of Operations, Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi, was asked to take over in an acting capacity.
Sources in Abuja told The Nation that sequel to Emefiele’s suspension he has been barred from leaving the Federal Capital and may be probed by the Department of State Services (DSS) for alleged terrorism financing.
It was gathered that the House of Representatives’ inquisition into the activities of the CBN under Emefiele has opened many cans of worms, such that the authorities felt compelled to send him home to allow for proper investigation.
“There is a lot of dossier on him (Emefiele), so it is only proper that he should step aside in order to allow for proper investigation into the allegations preferred against him,” the source said.
Another source familiar with the development said: “The CBN governor’s probe by the Reps is just a prelude to what may follow in a few days.”
An ad hoc committee of the House investigating the alleged missing 48 million barrels of Bonny Light crude had summoned Emefiele to provide details on the N32.5 billion said to have been paid to two companies — Messrs GSCL Consulting and Bizplus — without formal records.
The Green Chamber is also investigating an alleged payment of $200 million to the firms for “consultancy service.”
Speaking at the investigative hearing, Mark Gbillah, chairman of the ad hoc committee, said available records showed that the CBN paid N16.5 billion to each of the two companies on the same day.
Gbillah added that the amount was withdrawn by the companies within two months.
The lawmaker said it was important for Nigerians to know why the apex bank paid the said amount to the companies, especially when Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, denied knowledge of the payments.
Embattled Emefiele barred from leaving Abuja
Mr. Emefiele, according to sources, has been restricted to Abuja for now and there were indications last night that the DSS might revisit its investigation of him for alleged terrorism financing.
It was also learnt that Emefiele may not return to his office and the Presidency technically removed the CBN Governor through suspension instead of outright sack because Tinubu was constrained by the law.
By the CBN Act, Emefiele can only be removed by two-thirds majority of the Senate, which will hold its 9th valedictory session today.
A source claimed that although Emefiele was advised by some forces to resign, he underrated the signal.
The source said Emefiele assumed he could earn the confidence of the new government.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that Emefiele has many pending allegations against him but DSS probe was “crucial and interesting.”
A reliable source said: “Since it was a security matter, former President Muhammadu Buhari did not stop DSS from investigating Emefiele. But some members of the cabal in the Presidency frustrated the DSS.
“Now it is obvious the DSS may probe him because the encumbrances are no longer there. He had gone to the DSS headquarters for grilling before pressure came from some influential forces to halt the move.”
His suspension last night was soon followed by speculations that he had been arrested by the DSS.
But the spokesman for the DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya, could not immediately confirm the arrest.
In a chat with our correspondent, he wrote: “Inundated. I may not be able to make any confirmations NOW, please.”
On the likely recall of Emefiele from suspension, a government source said “it is remote. He has been technically removed like the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan did to a former CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
“By the provision of Section 11 of the CBN Act 2007, the President cannot unilaterally remove a CBN Governor, Deputy Governor or a director.
The section says that a CBN Governor can be sacked “provided that the removal of the Governor shall be supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed.”
“With the 9th Senate holding its valedictory session today, the legal advice available to President Bola Tinubu was suspension.
“But the curtain is already drawn on Emefiele’s tenure. Apart from the DSS factor, there are other issues he may need to clarify.”
The government source claimed that “the CBN Governor was prevailed upon by many sources but he underrated the advice. He assumed he could earn the confidence of this administration.”
A source said Emefiele “has not been arrested but I know he will not be allowed to venture out of Abuja.”
The source recalled how the DSS had, last December, sought to file charges of money laundering and terrorism financing against him.
The department said at the time that it was investigating Emefiele for “various acts of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities and his involvement in economic crimes of national security dimension.”
It claimed he was involved in “fraud, mismanagement of interventionist funds, round tripping and conferment of financial benefit to self and others.”
The DSS had averred, in the suit: FHC/ABJ/CS/2255/2022 that its preliminary investigation showed various acts of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities perpetrated by Emefiele and his involvement in economic crimes of national security dimension.