TINUBU Vs. EMEFIELE: One year of destructive vendetta 

Tue, Jun 11, 2024
By editor
9 MIN READ

Opinion

By Steve Osuji 

ALLEGATIONS IN SEARCH OF EVIDENCE: It was on a cool Friday mid morning on June 9, 2023, one year ago. It was an airport tarmac scene. Social media suddenly became awash with photos of then CBN governor,  Mr Godwin Emefiele, alighting from a white Hilux truck and being harnessed into a waiting jet.

The scenario could be likened to an abduction scene as the men in the picture were unmistakably of the secret service. Apart from their dress code, handcuffs were evident as they boarded the plane.

 The hapless former CBN governor was later announced to have been arrested and detained by the Department of State Service (DSS). He was taken from his Lagos home to Abuja. 

Emefiele’s suspension as CBN’s governor was also announced later that evening. It didn’t matter that his position was tenured and that by law, he couldn’t be removed without a proven malfeasance. 

He was to be detained without bail and he never returned from that trip to Abuja until December, six months after. According to news report,  he was “being investigated for some of his policies as CBN governor.”  When did the policies of a government official become criminal offence? But thus began the long search for evidence to nail a supposed  “political enemy.” It is the chronicles of Nigeria’s worst political witch-hunt in history that is causing so much harm to important fabrics of our nation.

DEBASEMENT OF THE DSS:

 The relentless pursuit of Emefiele in the last one year has only proven without doubt that his ordeal is a stark political vendetta and that President Bola Tinubu is perhaps, the most vindictive leader of our time. 

Going by the manner Emefiele was abducted like a common thief, one would think he had relocated the CBN to his residence. But the DSS’ ransack of Emefiele’s home was said to have yielded less than half a million naira. It is a testament to the abuse Nigeria’s elite intelligence police has been put through arising from the Emefiele saga.

The DSS had told the world that the former CBN governor was financing terror. But for six months  – between June and December 2023 – the DSS had Emefiele in its custody yet the intelligence agency couldn’t prove even one of its allegations. They turned out to be wild and spurious allegations. 

DSS also claimed that the erstwhile apex bank chief who had been a banker all his life, was a gun runner. After ransacking all his residences  – behind his back  – they came up with  a little pistol,  more like a toy gun. Of course,  the courts were not amused by DSS’ joke. The courts threw out all the inanities DSS presented to them over the period of six months they held Emefiele. In decent climes, the director general of the DSS would have resigned, tendering profuse apologies to the nation. But honorable men are few here. He still sits in his exalted office even as you read this, pretending to lead what ought to be the most subliminally intellectual organ of state. Debasement has no lower level.

EFCC ABUSE:

 After some more bungling, including open and embarrassing custodial fights with EFCC over Emefiele,  DSS eventually handed their victim to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the appropriate agency to probe him in the first place. EFCC has continued with unrelenting search for any tissue of concrete evidence to put Emefiele in jail. Till this moment, it is yet to succeed. 

The Commission unashamedly, has been searching every nook and cranny of Nigeria’s financial system to find something,  just anything, to put Emefiele away. One sympathises with the management of EFCC because it must have received clear instructions to this tone: make sure you put that man in jail! I don’t know how you do it, just put him in jail for the rest of his life!

So about half of EFCC’s squad has been put on it and they have been working day and night to find some answer to the Emefiele question. 

EFCC has scoured the entire books of the CBN over nine years. To their utter frustration, nearly everything they took to court has been thrown out for lack of substance. They combed through nine years of daily CBN forex transactions. No deal. Like a poor mangy dog, they barked at Dangote and Bua, themselves  rabid consumers of Nigeria’s forex. EFCC were met with fierce rottweilers and dobermans the sizes of Dangote and Abdulsamad! They backed off with their tails behind their limbs.

OF OBAZEE, DELOITTE AND FORENSIC FRAUD:

President Tinubu got desperate and frenzied when after six months, nothing could be pinned on Emefiele. A so-called Special Investigator, a tainted Jim Obazee was deployed to chase down Emefiele.  For three months, Obazee who is better at muck racking than auditing found nothing that could stand in court. A master of subterfuge, Obazee pushed out a rash of half truths, outright lies and one-sided facts broiled in a slew of media propaganda. Recall Obazee’s outlandish claim that Emefiele opened 493 bank accounts all over the world. That’s a very serious allegation except that it’s a bloody lie. Nothing he contrived stuck on Emefiele. 

True to Obazee’s nature, he began to covet an appointment and even tried convert an ad hoc task to an institutionalised office, plotting to stay on endlessly. It took an express presidential directive (and probably a Julius Berger crane) to bundle him out of his “office of the Special Investigator (OSI)”  which he was surreptitiously creating.

Thoroughly frustrated, the president ordered the services of DELOITTE, the world’s number one accounting firm to audit the CBN under Emefiele. Deloitte doesn’t come cheap. Not less that a million dollars of course. That is over a billion naira. This was done most secretly. But not even DELOITTE has found a smoking gun.

DAMAGE TO JUDICIARY, ABUSE OF COURT PROCESS AND ASSETS STRIPPING:

The judiciary may have suffered the most in this unforgiving presidential outrage. In the last one year,  courts in Abuja and Lagos have been dragged to the mud in the blind hunt for Emefiele. Between DSS and EFCC, over 12 charges have been taken before courts. Most of them have been thrown out or withdrawn. Most of them were amended several times on their second hearing. Yet they were either thrown out or abandoned on the sheer weight of their foolishness.

In the early days of Emefiele ‘abduction’, courts in Abuja handed over half a dozen orders to the DSS release him. But the orders were ignored as if DSS was above the law. Tinubu watched as the judiciary was being humiliated, trampled and rubbished by the executive arm in his blind pursuit of one ‘enemy.’

Everything seems to have failed right now in the Emefiele hunt. Chicanery and trickery are now being applied unabashedly. First,  in a bizarre case of forum shopping, Emefiele’s cases were brazenly moved to Lagos, under the Lagos State judiciary. This move is ostensibly to get pliable courts and malleable judges. In Lagos,  all sorts of witnesses are being  procured or coerced to testify against Emefiele. Dispatch riders,  domestic cooks and ‘bitter’ cousins of Emefiele are being dredged up to stand on the witness box.

Hunters of Emefiele have also adopted a new tactic: to confiscate real estate property or cash in bank suspected to belong to Emefiele. It doesn’t matter that he has been in the banking system all his life rising to be the GMD and substantial shareholder in what’s perhaps the biggest bank in Nigeria today.

Emefiele was already in the league of the Tony Elumelu’s, Fola Adeola’s, Aig Imoukhuede’s, Jim Ovia’s and the late Herbert Wigwe’s before he was headhunted for the CBN job. Would the government move against these aforementioned men to investigate their estates!

The Tinubu team chasing Emefiele are on an exercise in futility by hijacking bank accounts and real estates on spurious and contrived evidence. All these will be reversed someday when the lies are unveiled and commonsense returns to the polity.

WISDOM OF POLITICAL SOLUTION:

It’s common knowledge that Tinubu is miffed by Emefiele’s role in former President Muhammadu Buhari’s last-minute attempts to abort his (Tinubu’s) presidential quest. The end game introduction of naira redesign and the move to draft Emefiele into the presidential race had of course given Tinubu rapid, uncontrolled palpitations (RUPs). Tinubu must have sworn to destroy Emefiele at all costs. But in his unsuccessful attempts, the president harms himself and whatever legacies he might have. Chasing Emefiele has left  Tinubu and his essence dimmed and bereft of any sheen.

Worse, Tinubu unwittingly lays self-defeating precedents in bracingly stripping Emefiele of some of his hard earned estates. Tomorrow,  someone will come along to mark Tinubu’s vast estates for confiscation too. He will always have a hard time explaining those five-star hotels, the city on the Atlantic, the media empire and acres of prime residential estates littered all over Lagos, especially along the Ibeju Lekki axis. We all know them don’t we? All these without a factory anywhere.

In situations like this, great leaders find wisdom in political solution. Tinubu would’ve have co-opted Emefiele into his fold and pressed him to even greater use. He has turned out a better CBN governor than the man on the saddle.  Fortunately, the hunt for Emefiele has proved salutary as it would make a hero of him eventually. We can say today without equivocation that hardly any other Nigerian leader or public official can stand the level of scrutiny Emefiele has been subjected to in the last one year. Not even the president… Nigerians are watching, the world is watching.

F.A

June 11, 2024

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