It is no longer news that President Bola Tinubu has suspended the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele from his position.
What, however, remains news, is the manner in which the former apex bank boss was treated immediately after he was evicted from his top position at the bank.
It should be recalled that Tinubu had on Friday night suspended Emefiele, from office with immediate effect.
The suspension was a sequel to the ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the financial sector of the economy, according to a statement on Friday by the Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey.
According to the statement, Emefiele was directed to immediately hand over the affairs of his office to the Deputy Governor (Operations Directorate), Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi who will act as the CBN governor pending the conclusion of the investigation and the reforms.
Following the suspension, reports emerged that the former apex bank governor was arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) for a possible investigation.
It took another few hours before the secret police confirmed that Emefiele was now in its custody.
Since last year, the DSS had been trying to arrest Emefiele as it filed a suit on December 7, 2022, seeking to arrest the former CBN governor over allegations bothering on “acts of financing terrorism, fraudulent activities and economic crimes of national security dimension.”
But the Chief Judge, Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court ruled that the DSS did not provide substantial evidence to support their claims of Emefiele’s involvement in terrorism financing and economic crimes.
In what appeared to be perhaps, a time to settle scores with Emefiele, a video emerged on Saturday afternoon showing the moment operatives of DSS arrested the ex-CBN boss in Lagos and subsequently transported to the Federal Capital Territory for questioning. The operatives had handcuffs.
Though, from the video, Emefiele was not handcuffed, operatives holding the object point to the fact that he will most likely be handcuffed once they get to their destination.
Or maybe the handcuff was removed before he boarded the plane.
The picture of the handcuffs, begs the question of, why should the DSS treat Emefiele like a common criminal. Was the handcuff necessary?
For one, Emefiele does not appear like one who seems a threat to security operatives that a handcuff would be needed.
We all know that to maintain law and order, police officers are empowered to arrest those suspected to have committed an offence – or in the process of doing so.
However, in making an arrest, suspects are legally protected from the abuse of their fundamental human rights.
Section 34 of the 1999 constitution states that every individual is entitled to respect for human dignity and shall not be subjected to torture or degrading treatment.
This implies that any form of abuse during an arrest is antithetical to the dictates of the Constitution.
The use of a handcuff in the case of Emefiele appears to be a violation of his human rights.
Now, what are the situations that allow a law enforcement officer to place a suspect in handcuffs?
The Administration of the Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 and Nigeria Police Act 2020 clearly provides that there should be “no unnecessary restraint” of arrested suspects.
Section 7 of the ACJA highlights when a suspect could be handcuffed and subjected to restraint.
The section states that “a suspect or defendant may not be handcuffed, bound or be subjected to restraint except:
“(a) there is reasonable apprehension of violence or an attempt to escape.
“(b) the restraint is considered necessary for the safety of the suspect or defendant, or
“(c) by order of a court.”
This implies that it is unlawful for police or other law enforcement officers to use handcuffs or any other restraining devices/methods on a suspect if he or she voluntarily submits for arrest without resorting to any form of violence.
However, when the safety of the suspect or the accused cannot be guaranteed, the police officer can subject the individual to handcuffs.