Suspended CBN governor refutes firearm charges

Suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, made a public appearance in court on Tuesday, refuting allegations of illegally possessing a firearm and ammunition, as reported by local media. This marked the first time he had been seen in public in over a month.

During the court hearing, Emefiele pleaded not guilty to two counts of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, according to local news outlets.

The suspension and subsequent arrest of Emefiele took place on June 10 by the state secret police, just a day after President Bola Tinubu suspended him from his position. However, earlier this month, a judge ordered the agency to either bring charges against him or release him from custody.

Challenging his detention, Emefiele’s legal team filed an application for bail, seeking his release pending further developments in the case.

Before his arrest, government lawyers had sought authorisation from the courts to detain Emefiele over allegations of misappropriating funds and “criminal breach of trust,” offences that carry significant prison sentences if proven. A court order had granted the authorities permission to hold him while further investigations were conducted.

Emefiele’s approach to economic policies was notable for its unorthodox methods, aimed at artificially strengthening Nigeria’s Naira currency and providing direct lending to businesses to stimulate growth. His authority and influence in the country were substantial, and he even made a bid last year to replace the former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Having been appointed in 2014, Emefiele had secured a second five-year term in 2019 and was set to retire the following year. His tenure as the second-longest-serving governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria was marked by overseeing the nation’s largest economic downturn.

In contrast to Emefiele’s policies, President Tinubu, who recently assumed office, has been vocal about the need for significant reforms. During his inauguration in May, he criticised the central bank’s past strategies under Emefiele, citing the necessity for a thorough review and overhaul without specifying the exact changes required.

As Emefiele’s suspension continues, the central bank is set to announce its first interest rate decision, with his deputy, Folashodun Shonubi, acting as the interim central bank governor.

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