…says there must be an end to detention
An Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, on Wednesday, granted bail to the detained Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, ordered that he should be released to his lawyers.
“There must be an end to detention without trial” the judge held, stressing that it was the refusal of the Economic and Financial and Crimes Commission, EFCC, to comply with the order the court made on November 2, that led to the ruling.
Besides, the court held that it could not allow Emefiele to remain in custody owing to claim of the Federal Government that he would on November 15, be arraigned on a fresh charge.
It held that the claim was speculative as there was nothing to establish that the planned arraignment would hold as scheduled.
More so, the court noted that a purported remand order that FG’s lawyer tendered before it, which was signed by an Abuja Chief Magistrate, bore conflicting dates.
“A very crucial fact that this court cannot overlook is the Applicant’s claim that he has been incarcerated for a period of upward of 151 days without trial,” Justice Adeniyi added.
He held that section 298(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, empowered the court to make necessary orders, even when there is a remand order against an Applicant.
Consequently, the court directed that Emefiele should be released to a team of three Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, that represented him in the matter.
It held that the lawyers should produce him in court on November 15 for his planned arraignment or at any other date that he is required to appear in court.
Justice Adeniyi directed Emefiele to surrender all his international documents to the most senior Registrar of the court, pending his arraignment.
It subsequently adjourned further proceedings in the matter till November 17.
The ruling followed a fundamental right enforcement suit that the erstwhile CBN boss, who has been in detention for about five months, filed through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Matthew Burkaa, SAN.
Cited as Respondents in the suit marked: FCT/HC/CV/040/2023, are; the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as well as the anti-graft agency itself.
It will be recalled that President Bola Tinubu had on June 9, suspended Emefiele from office as the head of the apex bank.
He was later arrested at his Lagos residence by the Department of State Services, DSS.
Emefiele had since then, faced a two-count charge of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition before the Federal High Court in Lagos, as well as a 20-count corruption charge that the Federal Government entered against him and two others before an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama.
However, proceedings in both cases were put on hold, following the decision of the Defendants to explore a plea bargain deal with FG.
The former CBN boss was subsequently transferred to the EFCC detention facility, by the DSS.
FG had in opposition to Emefiele’s request for bail, notified the court that he would on November 15, be arraigned on a fresh charge.
It will be recalled that Justice Adeniyi had on November 2, ordered the anti-graft agency to either release the embattled former CBN Governor, unconditionally, or produce him in court to be granted bail.
In compliance to the directive, the EFCC produced him on court for the hearing of his bail application.