In a recent development, the Conference of Nigerian Intellectuals in the United States has raised concerns over alleged human rights violations in the ongoing trial of Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Led by its President, Dr. Philips Idris, the group issued a statement on Monday expressing discontent with the handling of the case by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The group vehemently criticized Emefiele’s current detention, labeling it as “illegal and fiendish.” Emefiele’s trial commenced in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, with witnesses reportedly clearing him of any wrongdoing in the award of N1.2 billion vehicle supply contracts during his tenure at the CBN.
Quoting Article 9 of the United Nations Human Rights, Dr. Idris emphasized, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile.” He pointed out that international human rights laws obligate governments to act in ways that promote and protect the fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.
Dr. Idris further alleged a series of abuses of the rule of law and disregard for the freedom and rights of innocent Nigerians since the current administration took office, using Emefiele’s case as an example.
The statement issued by the Conference of Nigerian Intellectuals read, “We have watched with concern and indeed, consternation, the relentless persecution of Mr. Godwin Emefiele. Emefiele is currently being sequestered and shackled like a common criminal in Nigeria.”
The group claimed that despite securing several court orders for Emefiele’s release, they were serially and flagrantly disobeyed by both the EFCC and the Department of State Services (DSS). The group expressed suspicion that the intensity with which Emefiele is being pursued may indicate an ulterior motive, suggesting a desire to harm him.
Emefiele’s detractors, according to the group, appear willing to break any law to punish him for carrying out his statutory duties during his tenure as the CBN governor. The statement emphasized that Emefiele has been denied his freedom and basic rights, both in violation of domestic and international human rights laws.
The intellectuals, as concerned citizens in the diaspora, called on the Nigerian government to adhere to the principles of justice by freeing Emefiele. Additionally, they issued a warning to the EFCC, urging the commission not to undermine the confidence of the international community in doing business with Nigeria by violating the fundamental rights of perceived opponents of the administration. The group expressed concerns that the country might be regressing toward dictatorship and appealed for international attention to the perceived new reign of terror back home.