The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has described as “despicable”, Tuesday’s scuffle between operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and officers of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) over the custody of the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.
NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau, in a statement on Wednesday, called on the two agencies to take immediate disciplinary measures against the officers involved in the “disgraceful conduct”.
He said the altercation between officers of the two government agencies on the premises of the Federal High Court in Lagos is a recipe for anarchy and chaos, adding that it was a “brazen disrespect for the sanctity of the court premises”.
On Tuesday, the secret police and prison officials caused a stir when they clashed on the court premises over the agency to take custody of the suspended and embattled apex bank chief after Justice Nicholas Oweibo admitted Emefiele to bail in the sum of the N20m.
The judge also ordered that Emefiele be remanded at the correctional centre pending the fulfillment of the bail conditions.
This was after Emefiele, 61, pleaded “not guilty” to the two counts of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition filed against him by the Federal Government. Emefiele, who was suspended by President Bola Tinubu on June 9, 2023 was arraigned over six weeks after his arrest and detention by the secret police.
Shortly after Emefiele’s arraignment and bail, DSS operatives strategically positioned their Hilux Pick Up van used in bring him to court, in a manner suggesting that they wanted to take him back to their detention centre but the suspended CBN governor holed up inside the courtroom with his lawyers.
When the prison officials moved to take Emefiele into custody pending the fulfillment of his bail conditions, the secret police challenged them and it led to a fight.
Amid the clash, Emefiele’s lawyers “reluctantly allowed the DSS disobey court order and take custody of their client” to avoid a gun battle.
The prison officials then exited the court in their vehicle and the DSS re-arrested Emefiele despite the court’s order granting him bail and remanding him in prison.
The NBA, in its reaction, condemned the scuffle and labelled the conduct of the DSS operatives and prison officials as “disgraceful”.
Suspended CBN chief, Godwin Emefiele leaves the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, and about to enter a waiting DSS vehicle despite an order of the court granting him bail and ordering his remand at a prison. Photo: Channels Television/Sodiq Adelakun.
The Association said the correctional service and the secret police ought to work in concert towards attaining justice in a secured Nigeria.
Emefiele waves at a crowd gathered at a Federal High Court in Ikoyi after his arraignment on Tuesday, July 25, 2023
“This incident regrettably is further evidence of the lack of discipline and absence of professionalism that continues to plague key security institutions in Nigeria, which, without doubt, is largely responsible for the limited progress in achieving a coordinated response to security concerns across the country,” the statement partly read.
“The NBA further condemns the brazen disrespect for the sanctity of the court premises. The courts and judicial processes remain the barometer by which the conduct of persons or agencies of government are gauged in assessing the rule of law.
“The NBA calls on the two agencies to take immediate disciplinary measures against the officers involved in this disgraceful conduct. In addition, there is an urgent need for a complete overhaul of the institutions and a total reorientation of the personnel, to achieve professionalism and ensure synergy in the discharge of their respective constitutional responsibilities.”