Nigeria security forces detain suspended central bank chief
Nigeria’s security services have detained the country’s suspended central bank chief as part of an investigation into his office, an agency said on Saturday.
The arrest of Central Bank of Nigeria governor Godwin Emefiele came shortly after new President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government suspended him following nearly a decade in the post.
Tinubu, who came to power at the end of last month following a contested February election, had promised reforms to help Africa’s largest economy emerge from financial troubles.
“The Department of State Services (DSS) hereby confirms that Mr Godwin Emefiele, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is now in its custody for some investigative reasons,” the DSS internal security agency said in a statement.
The DSS did not give details, but one of Tinubu’s government spokesmen earlier said that Emefiele had been suspended immediately as part of an “ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the financial sector”.
The bank’s deputy governor will step into the director’s role pending the conclusion of investigations, the statement said.
Emefiele was under fire, including over a policy by former president Muhammadu Buhari to replace old naira currency notes with new ones to prevent corruption during this year’s election and curtail cash ransom payments after kidnappings.
The policy led to a huge naira cash shortage across Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, where many people rely on cash payments in the informal economy to survive.
Emefiele had also attempted to run against Tinubu in the ruling All Progressives Congress or APC party primaries to be the party candidate for the presidency.
A former Lagos governor, Tinubu already stoked controversy on his May 29 inauguration day by immediately calling for an end to long-standing government subsidies to keep petrol prices artificially low.
Fuel prices almost tripled across Nigeria, after Tinubu announced that subsidies were “gone” on the day he took office.
Most analysts say the subsidies were needed to end to help the government save billions of dollars in expenses.
But it triggered a rapid spike in transportation costs, sending food prices soaring while electricity has become more costly for those using generators for power at home and business.