Femi Falana (SAN), a human rights lawyer, has stated that the Department of State Services (DSS) does not have the constitutional authority to investigate and prosecute the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele. Falana argues that Emefiele should be transferred to the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which has the legal mandate to prosecute him.
In a message sent to the media, Falana highlighted that a few months ago, the DSS made serious allegations against Emefiele, including terrorism financing, money laundering, and other economic crimes. However, during that time, the previous administration under President Buhari prevented the DSS from arresting, investigating, and prosecuting Emefiele.
Following Emefiele’s suspension as the CBN governor by President Bola Tinubu, the DSS recently questioned him in Lagos and subsequently transported him to Abuja for further investigation. The media reports suggest that the DSS has begun its investigation into the matter, despite initially denying Emefiele’s arrest and later admitting to having him in their custody.
Falana referred to the Supreme Court case of Dr Bukola Saraki v. Federal Republic of Nigeria, where it was ruled that the EFCC lacked the authority to investigate and prosecute Saraki for breaching the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. This ruling led to Saraki’s acquittal by the apex court.
Based on the legal principle established in Saraki’s case, Falana argued that the DSS lacks the power to investigate and prosecute Emefiele for allegations of money laundering and other economic crimes. Therefore, after the DSS completes its investigation into Emefiele’s alleged involvement in terrorism financing, Falana suggests that he should be transferred to the EFCC for the purpose of investigating the money laundering allegations and related offenses. Failure to do so, according to Falana, may jeopardize the investigation conducted by the DSS.