Ooni Of Ife visits Emefiele in Kuje prison, calls for his release

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II has visited the embattled former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Kuje Prison, Abuja.

The monarch who visited the ex-CBN governor on Tuesday, December 5, 2023, asked the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to release him.

Recall that Emefiele is currently behind bars for his inability to meet his N300 million bail condition.
Last month, Emefiele was arraigned on a six-count charge bordering on procurement fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He was accused of using his position to confer a corrupt advantage on Sa’adatu Yaro, a staff of CBN, by awarding a contract for the procurement of 43 vehicles worth N1.2 billion between 2018 and 2020.

Emefiele pleaded not guilty to the amended charges and was later granted bail in the sum of N300 million as well as two sureties in like sum, both of which must have certificates of occupancy and titles of properties within the Maitama district in Abuja.

He was also mandated to deposit all his travel documents with the Registrar of the Court with a warning to remain within the Abuja Municipal Council.

Unfortunately, he was unable to meet the bail conditions and had to be remanded in Kuje Correctional Facility until 2024.

It was gathered that the Ooni was at Kuje prison twice on Tuesday, ostensibly to visit Emefiele. The first time was in the early afternoon. 

He left after and returned four hours later to continue with his discussions with him. On both occasions, he had very lengthy meetings with Emefiele.

The Ooni obviously wants to settle things amicably between Emefiele and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to avoid the unnecessary dehumanisation of the former CBN governor, which has gone on for far too long in the estimation of some Nigerians.

Some of these Nigerians alleged Emefiele’s human rights violations, being sequestered and shackled like a common criminal and consider his detention as illegal and fiendish.

Besides civil society groups, other influential Nigerians who have intervened on behalf of Emefiele are elder statesman, Edwin Clark, and James Ibori, a former governor of Delta State who is a close friend of Tinubu among several others.

Prior to his arrest and arraignment by the EFCC, Emefiele had been in the custody of the Department of State Security (DSS) for over four months and just when he was released to breathe the fresh air of freedom, he got arrested again by the EFCC.

Meanwhile, during his visit, the Ooni and one of his wives reportedly facilitated the release of five inmates from the Kuje Custodial Centre.

According to a statement from the spokesperson of the Nigerian Correctional Service, FCT Command, Adamu Duza, Ogunwusi explained that the payment of fines for the inmates was a way to commemorate his 8th anniversary on the throne of his ancestors.

The Convener of Hope Alive Initiative for Africa was quoted to have said to the inmates during the intervention programme “I am here for the real people who need hope. Your condition today will be history tomorrow.”

The statement further stated that the monarch, who “secured the release of five inmates by paying their fines”, promised to support the inmates’ rehabilitation with the supply of equipment to aid their skills acquisition.

In her remark earlier, the monarch’s wife, Temitope, said the occasion was not only to celebrate the reign of the traditional ruler but also to reflect on societal issues.

“We are reminded of the power of forgiveness, redemption and second chance,” The PUNCH quoted Temitope saying during their intervention at the Kuje prison.

The monarch’s wife also applauded the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, and the correctional service authorities for their job reforming and reintegrating inmates.

Olatunbosun Ajibogun, representing the Controller of Corrections FCT Command, Ibrahim Idris, expressed gratitude to the monarch and his wife for selecting the Kuje Custodial Centre.

He assured them of the correctional service’s unwavering dedication to its mission of reforming, rehabilitating, and reintegrating inmates back into society.

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