Nigeria charges suspended central bank chief after court ruling

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) -Nigeria’s Department of State Security (DSS) said on Thursday it had filed charges in court against detained and suspended central bank governor Godwin Emefiele following an earlier order to charge him or release him.

Papers filed by government lawyers showed that Emefiele is facing criminal charges including misappropriation of funds, meaning he could face long jail terms if convicted.

The DSS did not give details on the charges and Emefiele has yet to appear in court.

Emefiele was suspended by new President Bola Tinubu on June 9 and arrested a day later by the DSS.

“Sequel to an Abuja High Court Order of today, 13th July, 2023, the Department of State Services hereby confirms that Mr Godwin Emefiele has been charged to Court in compliance with the order,” the DSS said in statement.

Court papers will be served to Emefiele’s lawyers and the court then will set a day for his arraignment, at which time he will be asked to enter a plea.

His lawyer could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

President Tinubu ordered the suspension less than two weeks after coming into office. Soon after, the central bank lifted restrictions on foreign currency trading that had been introduced by Emefiele.

The removal of curbs, part of the new president’s push to reform the central bank, delighted investors.

Nigeria’s constitution says accused people cannot be detained for more than 48 hours without appearing in court.

Government lawyers have said they secured an order from the lower magistrate court to hold Emefiele longer as investigations continue.

Emefiele, appointed by former President Muhammadu Buhari for a second five-year term in 2019, was due to retire next year. Buhari had supported a strong currency which he viewed as a matter of national pride.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha and Elisha Bala-Gbogbo; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Diane Craft)