The Department of State Services (DSS) on Monday interrogated the Deputy Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria and officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) who appeared before its operatives in Abuja, SaharaReporters has gathered.
SaharaReporters learnt on Tuesday that despite the inability of the DSS operatives to pick up the embattled CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele who returned to office on Monday, the DSS took other top CBN and FIRS officials to its headquarters and grilled them on sundry issues.
Authoritative sources familiar with the development disclosed to SaharaReporters that the officials “were hauled in a bus to the DSS headquarters where they were interrogated.”
SaharaReporters earlier today reported that the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor, deployed military personnel and intelligence officers to ensure Emefiele was not arrested by the DSS.
“Apparently the Chief of Defence Staff was the one that aided Emefiele to defy the DSS upon arrival. Irabor deployed the military police and intelligence to ensure Emefiele was not arrested,” a top source revealed on Tuesday morning.
Sources at the CBN had told SaharaReporters that the security personnel that accompanied Emefiele to the bank were larger than that of Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari.
“Emefiele has returned to Nigeria. He went to the CBN with massive security. He was given military protection. His security is bigger than that of the President,” another source had said in a terse message to SaharaReporters.
Meanwhile, SaharaReporters further gathered that the DSS interrogated several CBN and FIRS officials who alleged that Emefiele offered bribes to KPMG, an international audit firm, to ensure that audits were backdated in the wake of investigations around his office.
“After Emefiele’s arrival, the DG of DSS ordered all the Deputy Governors of CBN and FIRS to appear before the DSS. They were hauled in a bus to the DSS headquarters where they were interrogated,” an authoritative source revealed.
He added, “They confessed that Emefiele had been asking KPMG, an accounting firm to be backdating audits after offering them N600million bribe. KPMG officials interrogated also confessed to this.”
SaharaReporters last Thursday reported that the apex bank boss was still abroad, and afraid to set foot in Nigeria for fear of being arrested and detained by the secret police.
One of the sources had noted that the secret police were on alert and on the lookout for Emefiele. According to the source, the DSS would arrest Emefiele regardless of his antics and the recent court ruling.
Emefiele was part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s entourage to the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC between December 13 and 15, 2022.
While Buhari returned to Abuja a day after the summit, the CBN governor deliberately decided to delay his return to Nigeria.
Multiple sources last Friday told SaharaReporters some associates of President Muhammadu Buhari were leading the fight to stop the DSS from arresting Emefiele.
The President’s associates led by Mamman Daura, a nephew and close confidant of the President and Nasir El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna State were identified as standing strongly behind the CBN governor.
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 had also been 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.”
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court in Maitama, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja recently issued an order restraining the DSS from arresting, detaining or questioning Emefiele.
SaharaReporters had reported how the CBN boss perfected plans to cover up his corruption records in the last eight years.
Emefiele, who has been governor since 2014, is the first person to serve two terms at the head of Nigeria’s apex bank in nearly 20 years.
He was first appointed by then-President Goodluck Jonathan in June 2014, after Sarah Alade served out the term of the suspended Lamido Sanusi.
In contravention of the CBN Act, Emefiele in 2021 joined the ruling All Progressives Congress.
The action is against Section 9 of the CBN Act, 2007, which states: “The Governor and the Deputy Governors shall devote the whole of their time to the service of the bank and while holding office shall not engage in any full or part-time employment or vocation whether remunerated or not except such personal or charitable causes as may be determined by the Board and which do not conflict with or detract from their full-time duties.”
According to the chairman of Ward 6 in the Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State, Nduka Erikpume, the CBN governor is registered as an APC member.
“Yes, he has registered since February 2021. He is our member,” Erikpume had said.
Amid widespread condemnations in 2022, the CBN governor headed to a Federal High Court in Abuja to seek a constitutional interpretation of his non-resignation while pursuing his political interests.