Security Agency Detains Nigeria’s Suspended Anti-Bitcoin Central Bank Governor

The Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Godwin Emefiele, was suspended by Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on June 9 and was subsequently arrested by a domestic security agency. Several reports have linked Emefiele’s suspension to the central bank’s controversial naira demonetization exercise.

Emefiele’s Presidential Aspirations

The Nigerian central bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, was on June 9 suspended by the West African nation’s new president Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The suspension is expected to pave the way for further investigations into Emefiele’s conduct throughout his tenure as head of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

JUST IN: The Department of State Services (DSS) have confirmed that Mr Godwin Emefiele, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is now in its custody for some investigative reasons.

— Eons Intelligence (@eonsintelligenc) June 10, 2023

Immediately after his suspension, several local media reports said Emefiele was arrested by a domestic security agency known as the Department of State Services (DSS). As reported by News on Dec. 28, 2022, the CBN’s anti-bitcoin governor is accused of funding terrorists and of failing to properly manage the central bank.

At the time when the charges were initially leveled against him, the country’s domestic security agency sought to arrest Emefiele but the move was blocked by a Nigerian High Court. However, the departure of Emefiele’s ally, former president Muhammadu Buhari, appears to have allowed the DSS to finally act against the CBN governor.

Meanwhile, in addition to the allegations leveled against him by the DSS, supporters of Tinubu have repeatedly claimed that Emefiele had attempted to block Tinubu’s ascendancy via the CBN’s controversial naira demonetization exercise. A few days after Tinubu’s electoral victory, the CBN was forced to issue a statement which denied claims that Emefiele had initiated another plot against the then president-elect.

New President Attacks Central Bank’s Policies

However, in his inaugural speech as president, Tinubu appeared to take a cue from his backers when he blasted the CBN’s handling of currency and monetary policies. The new president also called for the replacement of Nigeria’s multiple exchange rate regime with one unified exchange rate. A few days after Tinubu’s admonishment, a local report on June 1 suggested that the CBN had taken heed of the president’s call by devaluing the naira to N631:USD1 from around N460:USD1. However, the central bank has since branded the report “fake news.”

Meanwhile, a Nigerian corporate lawyer who did not wish to be identified told News that Emefiele’s past presidential aspirations may partly explain why Tinubu chose to remove him.

“Long before this suspension, some prominent Nigerians and Nigerians in the street have been calling for Emefiele’s outright sack for several reasons. [One of these reasons is] Emefiele’s membership of the ruling party All People’s Congress (APC) with indication to contest the 2023 presidential election,” the lawyer said.

According to the lawyer, the central bank’s failed naira demonetization exercise proved to be the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

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