ACJHR Accuses FG of Persecuting Emefiele over Multiple Trials

*To focus on travails at Accra confab, declares trial political 

*Describes as vindictive multiple charges across different jurisdictions

*Middle Belt group tackles Akpabio

Alex Enumah in Abuja

African Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR) has accused the federal government of persecuting immediate past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele.
ACJHR said Emefiele’s trial on multiple charges across jurisdictions smacked of vindictiveness, stressing that when rights groups across Africa meet in a few days’ time in Accra, Ghana, one thing that would shape their discussion is the ongoing trial of the former CBN governor.
ACJHR is the sponsor of the Annual Conference of West African Human Rights watch groups.

Conference Organising Chairman, Comrade John Akufo, told newsmen in Accra that Emefiele’s ordeals had caught the attention of the human rights group.
Since last year, shortly after his suspension and subsequent arrest and detention, Emefiele has been dragged before four courts, especially between Lagos and Abuja, over alleged corruption and abuse of office, among other charges.

The federal government had initially arraigned him on a two-count charge of illegal possession of firearms before a Federal High Court in Lagos. But last July, the government, following an order of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for his unconditional release from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), filed a fresh 20-count charge against him in Abuja.

Only last month, Emefiele was also arraigned at a Lagos High Court, in Ikeja, over alleged abuse of office and allocation of billions of dollars.
His arraignment on a fresh 26-count charge stalled his ongoing trial before Justice Hamza Muazu of the FCT High Court, Abuja, on April 25, forcing the Abuja court to adjourn till June for continuation of trial.

Bothered by this development, human rights activists from across Africa decided to focus on Emefiele’s travails at this year’s Annual Conference of West African Human Rights watch groups, holding in Accra.
The event sponsored by ACJHR will be accessing the performance of West African governments on fairness and diligent prosecution, and how these had helped the fight against corruption.

The conference will also evaluate how the use of vindictive tools, like prolonged detention, multiple charges in different jurisdictions, media trial, and intimidation had weakened effective corruption fight.
Besides Emefiele, the group will also focus on other West African leaders, who had been denied fair trial, especially in Togo, Chad, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
Briefing newsmen at La Palm Beach Hotel, Accra, Akufo said the endless and prolonged detention of Emefiele, abuse of his human rights, bogus charges of terrorism, economic sabotage, and corruption, which the Nigerian government had not proven, had caught the attention of ACJHR.

Akufo said the long detention of Emefiele, abuse of court orders, media trial, public humiliation, and other highhanded actions had made the human rights apex watch bodies to consider discussing his matter at the annual conference.

He said, “If after reviewing the facts and evidence and we find out there is more to the case, the apex West African human rights gathering will declare the trial as political and put pressure and strong advocacy for Nigerians to pressure their government, especially the court, to discharge him and stop the prosecution.”
ACJHR stated that Emefiele’s suspension at the beginning of the current administration had political undertone, as it portended vindictive action against the CBN governor, whose policies in the build-up to the 2023 general election were viewed at targeting some politicians.

Akufo stated, “For instance, the present president, then candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu had, at the height of electioneering, said the naira swap policy was targeted at him and insisted that he would certainly win the election, despite sabotage from official quarters.
“Thus, without pre-empting what our review will show, it is suspicious that the continued harassment, endless multiple charges, detention, media trial of Emefiele and the actions of state and non-state actors precipitating the whole saga are pointing towards political persecution, as the former CBN governor had also, reportedly, indicated interest in the presidency.

“But, as we said earlier, if our investigations revealed so, we will take action to prevail on the government to stop that and stick to the facts and ensure quick dispensation of justice. It’s unfortunate that such is becoming the hallmark of governments not only in Nigeria but Africa generally.”
In a related development, Middle Belt Youths Forum (MBYF) took a swipe at Senate President Godswill Akpabio over his comment against Emefiele.
 MBYF advised Akpabio to focus on his corruption baggage.

The senate president incurred the wrath of the youths at the weekend, when he accused Emefiele of leaving behind a “foamy economy”.
While urging Nigerians to be patient with the Tinubu administration, Akpabio alleged that Emefiele “left a very big hole in the national treasury”.
But reacting to the comments, MBYF, in a statement by its Director of Strategy, Caleb Pwok, observed that Akpabio’s subservience to the executive as well as demonisation of the former CBN governor will not cleanse him of his corruption baggage.

While extolling Emefiele, the youth group observed that he defended the naira very well while at the helm of affairs at the apex bank.
They stated that the senate president, who had been summoned by EFCC severally for interrogation over corruption allegations against him, was just making utterances against Emefiele to gain the favour of Tinubu and avert the hammer of EFCC dangling over his head.

The group wondered if the senate president was senile, recalling that in defending the naira and ensuring stability of the currency in the Foreign Exchange (FX) market, CBN under Emefiele had implemented series of policies to manage the space and ensure that banks were able to meet the demands of customers seeking forex for SMEs, school fees, and medicals.

ACJHR recalled that Emefiele had at a time explained, “As a result of our demand management policy, the naira has remained largely stable at the I & E window, particularly since the discontinuation of FX allocation to Bureau De Change operators along with the convergence between the CBN and NAFEX rates.”
They said, “Following these policies implementation, particularly the stoppage of FX allocation to Bureau De Change operators, the naira maintained relative stability since 2021, according to the CBN, at N411.50/US$ in August, but declined to N414.33/US$ in December. The currency rate was N416.98/US$ in February 2022. For a long time, the CBN has used a controlled float exchange rate regime.”

They added that with the above statement, the senate president needed no further proof with the current policies and the CBN exchange rate under the government, which Akpabio is an integral part of. They said Akpabio was the one that created a foamy economy.

Meanwhile, some users of X, former Tweeter, exonerated Emefiele from the current economic hardship facing the country. One user pointed out that during his tenure at the helm of affairs of the apex bank, Emefiele was in charge of exchange rate and inflation policy, while the fiscal authorities managed the economy.
The user said, “When Emefiele was removed, official exchange rate was N500/$1 and parallel market rate was N750/S. Today exchange rate is N1,491/$. When Emefiele was removed inflation was 21 per cent, today inflation is above 32 percent. Nigerians know better.”

Another user observed, “They lied that Emefiele was the cause of the problem when he was hand-picked by EFCC, they used Emefiele as the scapegoat, thinking that the economy will go back to the way it was under him and Buhari.”

Related Articles