Nigeria’s suspended Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele was charged with the illegal possession of a firearm, according to a court document filed by the State Security Service.
Emefiele will face trial after an unlicensed “single barrel shotgun” and 123 rounds of ammunition were found at his residence in the commercial hub of Lagos, a copy of the charge sheet confirmed by Bloomberg shows. The SSS had said it was investigating Emefiele over allegations of major crimes including misappropriation of public funds and economic sabotage.
The SSS, which is similar to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, filed the charges against Emefiele in Lagos on June 13, the same day as a court in the capital, Abuja, ordered the agency to prosecute or bail the governor within seven days. The governor has been in custody since June 10, a day after he was removed from his post by President Bola Tinubu.
The alleged offense for which Emefiele was charged was not among the specific allegations listed in court filings previously submitted by the SSS. The organization then said it was investigating the governor over suspicions he had committed crimes including misappropriation of public lending programs, money laundering, terrorism financing and economic sabotage.
Emefiele said he is a victim of “a political witch-hunt” because Tinubu’s predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, had been satisfied with his management of the central bank, according to a bail application filed on June 13. Tinubu took over from Buhari at the end of May following an election held three months earlier.
Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition carries a maximum prison sentence of five years under Nigerian law.
Anthony Osae-Brown and William Clowes, Bloomberg
Related stories: Suspended Nigeria central bank governor Godwin Emefiele charged