Emefiele : DSS operatives reportedly arrest, detains NIRSAL boss, Masanawa

The Department of State Services (DSS) has reportedly arrested Abbas Masanawa, the chief executive officer of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL.

He was reportedly arrested for his alleged role in the ongoing corruption probe of ousted CBN chief Godwin Emefiele, according to Peoples Gazette reports on Friday.

Informed DSS insiders said Mr Masanawa was taken into custody three weeks ago and has remained there while their investigation continued, the online newspaper reported.

It was not immediately clear whether or not he has hired lawyers to represent him in the case. A spokesman for NIRSAL did not immediately return a request for comments.

Mr Masanawa’s arrest allegedly stemmed from his role as the managing director of Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC).

He reportedly resigned from NSPMC after it was reported that he was seeking a governorship election as a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress while still in office as the nation’s printing and minting boss.

The NSPMC is a subsidiary of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) responsible for printing and minting the nation’s currency notes, coins and high-level security documents.

It was not immediately clear why President Bola Tinubu approved the detention of Mr Masanawa without first suspending him from office, especially since his detention for the past three weeks has crippled NIRSAL’s ability to operate.

A presidential spokesman declined comments.

Mr Emefiele was fired as CBN governor on June 9 and was arrested the next day by the SSS, which has kept him in custody ever since, in defiance of federal court orders.

A spokesperson for the DSS declined to speak on Mr Masanawa’s detention, which stood at 22 days as of Friday morning.

“No comment,” Peter Afunaya said in a message to The Gazette Friday morning.

Mr Masanawa’s arrest came Mr Tinubu appointed an anti-graft expert, Jim Obazee, to uncover fraud at the CBN and other federal agencies.

The Obazee-led team is said to have initiated a probe into all relevant agencies that are said to have connived with the CBN and its sprawling parastatals.

A former deputy general manager at Zenith Bank, Mr Masanawa served as special adviser to Mr Emefiele and steadily moved up the rung to become the executive director at the NSPMC.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the organisation’s managing director in September 2018.

In May 2022, Mr Masanawa declared his intention to contest the governorship election in Katsina without stepping down from office. He promptly resigned from his position following The Gazette’s story on his misconduct.

After he failed to clinch the ticket, Mr Emefiele appointed him as the new head of NIRSAL, following the removal of the agency’s former boss Aliyu Abdulhameed amid corruption allegations. Mr Abdulhameed denied wrongdoing.

Emergency Digest.