The Conference of Nigerian Intellectuals in the United States, headed by Dr. Philips Idris, has recently expressed grave concerns regarding human rights breaches in relation to the trial of Mr. Godwin Emefiele, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. On Monday, the organization released a statement in which they slammed the EFCC’s handling of Emefiele’s case, calling his imprisonment “illegal and fiendish.”
The trial, which is currently underway in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, has seen witnesses reportedly exonerating Emefiele from any misconduct in relation to N1.2bn vehicle supply contracts during his tenure at the CBN. Dr. Idris, citing Article 9 of the United Nations Human Rights, emphasized the importance of safeguarding against arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile, and pointed out the obligations of governments under International Human Rights Law.
The group expressed deep concern over what they perceive as a pattern of rule of law abuses and disregard for individual rights under the new administration in Nigeria, using Emefiele’s case as an example. They stated that despite multiple court orders for his release, these have been consistently ignored by both the EFCC and the Department of State Services (DSS). The intensity of Emefiele’s prosecution, according to the group, suggests a malicious intent, with accusations of the authorities breaking laws to penalize him for actions taken during his CBN governorship.
The statement further highlighted that Emefiele’s treatment violates both domestic and international human rights laws. The Conference of Nigerian Intellectuals in the U.S. is calling for international attention to what they describe as a return to authoritarianism in Nigeria. They are urging the Nigerian government to release Emefiele and cautioning the EFCC against actions that could damage international trust in Nigeria’s business environment.
The group has warned that if their appeals are ignored, they plan to organize peaceful protests in the United States and, in collaboration with a sister organization, in London, starting next Monday.