I thought the story was fake when it first emerged early in December last year that the Department of State Service (DSS) was surreptitiously working to obtain an ex-parte order from a court in Abuja to arrest and detain the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele. I could not imagine the Director General of the DSS, Yusuf Bichi sending somebody to court for this spiteful purpose. But it turned out to be true. I was shocked to the marrow when one of Bichi’s men appeared before Justice John Tsoho on December 15, 2022, asking for permission to arrest Emefiele over thoughtless allegations of terrorism financing and fraudulent practices.
I’m not sorry to say that the DSS under Bichi’s leadership has persistently been an embarrassment to this country. This latest vindictive move against Nigeria’s CBN governor, Emefiele, is a national mortification that threatens this country’s economy. It is a disservice to the Nigerian state and a degradation of the nation’s image. Bichi cared less about the negative impact of his inconsiderate war against Emefiele on this country. Moreso, the DSS was asking the court for permission to arrest Emefiele, without concrete facts to support its application. It was a flimsy and disgraceful application.
Justice Tsoho, upon perusal of the documents submitted by the DSS, captures the ricketiness of the application thus: “The entire affidavit depositions, especially as per paragraph 4 of the supporting affidavit, purport that preliminary investigation has revealed various acts of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities perpetrated by the respondent and his involvement in economic crimes of national security dimension. These are no doubt grave allegations, but which the applicant has not presented any concrete evidence to support. The applicant should have taken the court into confidence while seeking the exercise of its discretion in favour of granting the application.”
Simply put, the affidavit submitted to Justice Tsoho did not substantiate or provide any material fact of terrorism and corruption against Emefiele. The DSS’s acts are clear attempts to inhibit the rights of the CBN Governor, while supporting a personal agenda.
I guess that was why in another ruling on December 23, Justice M. A. Hassan of a High Court in Abuja, restrained the DSS from arresting or detaining the CBN Governor. The judge held that the DSS, “acted wrongfully and illegally in instigating President Muhammadu Buhari against Mr. Godwin Emefiele in respect of the exercise of his statutory duty relating to the issuance of monetary policies and directives in the interest of the national security and economy.”
Justice Hassan further declared that any continuous harassment, intimidation, threats, restriction of free movement, abuse of right of office, surreptitious moves to arrest, and humiliation of Emefiele were “vindictive, unwarranted, abrasive, oppressive” and same constitute a flagrant breach of his rights to personal liberty, dignity and human person”, and were thus illegal and unconstitutional.
Another shocking development at Justice Hassan’s court was that in an affidavit in response to the ex parte, the EFCC (listed as one of the parties against Emefiele) stated that it had no case against the CBN governor and that Emefiele was not under its investigation. The anti-graft agency accordingly asked that it should be discharged from the matter being that the agency is an unnecessary party. Bichi and his men were badly startled by this. The EFCC has simply decided not to be used for a vindictive purpose.
I concur with those asking the Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to commence criminal inquiry, arrest and prosecution of all persons and personnel of the DSS involved in the plot to frame up Emefiele for terrorism financing. One of such Nigerians is a lawyer, Mr. Peter Abang who is seeking for a full-scale criminal inquiry into the circumstance leading to the failed attempt by the DSS to frame the CBN Governor on terrorism financing charges as well as other sundry offences. Honestly, this is the way to go, if we want this nonsense to end.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) was apt when it called on President Muhammadu Buhari to put his house in order over the disgraceful DSS action and “save the country from, repeated, gratuitous national embarrassments.” For me, it is shocking that Buhari is silent while Bichi’s shenanigans persist.
SMBLF adds: “It is unthinkable that the DSS would recklessly and carelessly accuse Emefiele of financing terrorism and involvement in economic crimes of national security dimension. This is not only shameful but a disgrace to the Buhari administration and the Nation, and capable of unsettling the socioeconomic tractions of the country. Where is the evidence that the CBN Governor is involved in terrorism financing?”
The SMBLF wondered why the DSS didn’t present its findings to the President for consideration and necessary action, if indeed, the allegations against the CBN Governor were genuine: “We wonder whether it is those instructions given to him by the President, which he carries out that make him a terrorism sponsor or there are personal actions and activities he had carried out without the president’s approval and instruction. It is bemusing that Bichi and his backers, presumed all citizens have been ‘conquered’.”
It is instructive to note that the SMBLF also contended that it would be inexcusable to allow Bichi to remain a moment longer in office as DG of the DSS, if indeed, President Buhari was not aware of the plot to arrest Emefiele. This is germane. I fully agree that Bichi should be relieved of his position, without any delay, because, by his action against Emefiele, he showed disloyalty and insolence to the President and the nation. Besides, he is incompetent. A man that has failed woefully in the war against terrorists ravaging Nigeria is punching a harmless Emefiele. Which nonsense “terrorism funding” is Bichi talking about? Yes, the DSS boss should also be made to render an unreserved public apology to Nigerians and to the CBN governor, before being kicked out.
Bichi dabbles into areas he has no business with. I remember the DSS boss asking the NNPC to restore efficient fuel supply within 48 hours. What is the business of the DSS with this? So, what happened after his useless deadline? Till date, long queues persist in petrol stations across the country.
Bichi, who still thinks we are in a military era, should not be seen working as DSS boss in a democracy. I will never forget how Bichi unleashed operatives of the SSS on inoffensive protesters in Abuja, November 2019. Truckloads of operatives, some with masks, used pepper spray to disperse protesters gathered around the DSS headquarters in Abuja to demand for the release of Omoyele Sowore. One of the DSS guys even fired live shots. Many of the protesters were injured in the melee. Some journalists also had their tools seized.
The attack on pro-Sowore campaigners on that November 2019 was absolutely unnecessary. To use Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka’s words, it was crude naked power. Firing live bullets was despicable. Who the hell is Bichi to have approved that kind of assault on innocuous demonstrators?
Bichi is leading a brand of secret police known for suppression as it was under Nigerian Army despotisms of the 1980s and 1990s. The DSS, as we have it today, is an organisation with little regard for established order. That illegal detention of Sowore in 2019 was only one of several. Under Bichi, the DSS illicitly held some Nigerians in its custody, in defiance of substantive court orders. Former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky readily come to mind. They were held for years illegally
If indeed, we are in a democracy, the DSS boss has no business staying a day longer in office. He should be substituted immediately. His disdain for the rule of law is legendary.
Source: First published in Thisday Newspaper