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EXCLUSIVE: Chief Of Defence Staff, Irabor Begs DSS Boss To Delay Arrest Of Nigerian Central Bank Gov, Emefiele As Secret Police Ramps Up Pressure

January 18, 2023

The DSS or State Security Service (SSS) has accused the CBN governor of being involved in the financing of terrorism.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor is currently lobbying the Director-General of the secret police, Department of State Services (DSS) on behalf of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, SaharaReporters has learnt.

The DSS or State Security Service (SSS) has accused the CBN governor of being involved in the financing of terrorism.

It said preliminary investigation revealed various acts of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities perpetrated by Emefiele and his involvement in economic crimes of national security dimension.

But a Federal High Court in Maitama, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja recently issued an order restraining the DSS from arresting, detaining or questioning Emefiele.

Emefiele returned to the country from the United Kingdom on Monday after delaying his return for some time following moves by the DSS to arrest and question him over a wide range of alleged criminal activities.

But while he was still away, sources in the DSS told SaharaReporters that they were aware that Emefiele had deliberately decided to delay his return to Nigeria. They, however, noted that the secret police would arrest the apex bank governor regardless of his antics and the recent court ruling.

However, SaharaReporters learnt on Wednesday that the DSS has ramped up pressure to ensure the arrest and interrogation of Emefiele. But amid the moves, there have also been appeals by some Nigerians in high places, including associates of President Muhammadu Buhari on behalf of the Central Bank governor.

The latest of such appeals came from the Chief of Defence Staff, Irabor, who has been begging on behalf of Emefiele, a top government source told SaharaReporters on Wednesday.

“The DSS has ramped up pressure on arresting the CBN governor but the Chief of Defence Staff has begged the DSS DG Bichi to let him finish some projects he’s working on,” the source said.

Last October, Emefiele announced the introduction of new naira notes to be in circulation from December 15, 2022, and circulate alongside the old notes till January 31, 2023. But less than two weeks before the deadline, banks still issue the old notes as the new notes have been relatively scarce.  

Upon Emefiele’s return to the country from the United Kingdom on Monday, SaharaReporters reported that Irabor deployed military personnel and intelligence officers to ensure the apex bank governor was not arrested by the DSS.

SaharaReporters on Tuesday gathered from top sources that Emefiele, who was under the DSS radar for several weeks following the investigation of several allegations against him, including corruption and terrorism financing, was shielded by the military personnel provided by the CDS office in Abuja.

SaharaReporters had on Monday reported that the CBN governor headed to his office with massive security, specifically military protection, following his return to the country.

Meanwhile, SaharaReporters also learnt that Emefiele has ‘recruited’ the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II to join the growing list of people fighting to prevent his arrest and interrogation.

“Emefiele has also recruited the Oba of Benin to beg on his behalf,” the source said.

SaharaReporters earlier reported that some associates of President Buhari, led by his nephew, Mamman Daura and his close confidant, Kaduna Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, were leading the fight to stop the DSS from arresting Emefiele.

The pro-Emefiele group may also be behind various protests, rallies and news reports supporting the CBN boss against the DSS.

Multiple groups and civil society organisations have raised the alarm that there is a plot to frame Emefiele for terrorism and remove him from office.

However, the DSS swiftly warned against being used to “undermine” its investigations, although it did not specifically name Emefiele.

Peter Afunanya, DSS spokesperson, said the service would not be distracted by those seeking to use “propaganda” to undermine its lawful investigations.

However, sources had told SaharaReporters that some monarchs – Obas and Emirs – had been lobbied and deployed to beg on behalf of Emefiele and convince the President and Director-General of the DSS of the need to let Emefiele be.

It was also learnt that Mamman Daura and El-Rufai were “working hard and doing everything within their power to wage war against the DG of DSS (Yusuf Bichi)”.

“They have deployed Obas and Emirs to beg on behalf of Emefiele and Governor Nasir El-Rufai leading the charge to fight for him,” one of the sources said.

Emefiele was said to have helped the Kaduna governor secure a World Bank loan worth $350 million.

“Emefiele helped Governor El-Rufai to secure $350m world bank loan out of which the governor made for himself N70 per dollar after the cash was sold to Aliko Dangote.

“Emefiele has serious stakes in 12 banks. He needs to explain how he got money to be a major stakeholder in 12 banks. He has stakes in Tita, Globus, Providence, Union Bank, big interest in First Bank and others,” a source had said.

“Mamman Daura is still working hard for him not to be arrested. He is still waging war against the Director-General of the DSS and other top officials.”