The Conference of Nigerian Intellectuals in the United States has raised concerns over perceived human rights violations in the ongoing trial of Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The group, led by President Dr. Philips Idris, issued a statement on Monday expressing dismay at the handling of the case by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Describing Emefiele’s detention as “illegal and fiendish,” the group contested the proceedings, asserting that the former CBN governor has been unjustly treated. Emefiele’s trial recently commenced in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, with initial witness testimonies reportedly absolving him of any wrongdoing in the award of N1.2bn vehicle supply contracts during his tenure at the Central Bank.
Quoting Article 9 of the United Nations Human Rights, Dr. Idris emphasized, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile.” He further invoked the International Law of Human Rights, which places an obligation on governments to act in ways that promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
According to Dr. Idris, there has been a recurring pattern of abuse of the rule of law and a disregard for the freedom and rights of innocent Nigerians since the inception of the new administration. He cited the case of Emefiele as a poignant example, suggesting a broader issue of concern regarding the protection of individual rights and fair legal proceedings in the country.
The statement read in part, “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.
“Several court orders had been secured for his release but they were serially and flagrantly disobeyed by the EFCC and the DSS. Judging by the ferocity with which Emefiele is being pursued, it seems someone wants him dead.
“His traducers are willing to break any law of the land and are dehumanized to punish him for carrying out his statutory duties during his time as governor of CBN.
“He has been denied his freedom and basic rights against both the domestic and international human rights laws. Article 9 of the United Nations Human Rights states that ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
“As concerned citizens in the diaspora, we have decided to draw the attention of the international community to the new reign of terror back home. Our dear country seems to be heading back to dictatorship.
“We are by this statement urging the Nigerian government to do the right thing which is to free Emefiele. We are also warning the EFCC not to erode the confidence of the international community in doing business with us as a nation by violating the fundamental rights of perceived opponents of the Asiwaju Administration.
“Should this plea fall on deaf ears, we will be staging a peaceful protest in the USA and another by our sister organisation in London on Monday (next week)” the group noted.