The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has adjourned till Tuesday, Aug 15th, further hearing in the applications filed by the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele seeking to stop the Federal Government from further remanding or prosecuting him on the charge of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunitions or on any other charge for that matter.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo ruled that the application which touched on the jurisdiction of the court was priority and would be taken alongside another application filed by the government seeking leave to appeal against the order granting bail to the suspended CBN governor.
Counsel for the suspended CBN Governor, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Victor Opara had told the court that the application was “germane and superior by reason of the persistent, relentless disobedience of the DSS to a clear, direct and potent order of the court on the bail application of his client”.
He informed the judge that he had only just been served in court this morning, with the prosecution’s reply to the application seeking to stop the trial of the suspended CBN Governor. He also asked for a short adjournment to enable him reply on points of law to the reply of the Prosecution.
Counsel for the Federal Government, an assistant chief state counsel, Kehinde Fagbemi, however disagreed. She told the court that the prosecution had filed first its application seeking leave to appeal and to stay the proceedings of the court pending appeal.
She urged the court to hear the FG’s application and grant an adjournment for Emefiele’s application.
“On the principle of first in time, our motion comes first and it is ripe for hearing. It is trite that any application that seeks to bring life to a case and another that seeks death, that which seeks life should be taken first…”
“We urge the court to hear our application today. We are not opposed to an adjournment for them to respond to our reply to their own application”, she said.
After listening to both parties, Justice Oweibo in his ruling said, “The business of the court today is the hearing of the motion of the prosecution. Filing is concluded and it is ripe for hearing. The courts attention has however been drawn to the defendant’s motion.
Considering the priority of the motion which is in a way challenging the prosecution and the jurisdiction of the court, I shall allow the defence to respond so that both applications will be taken together.”
The court then adjourned to August 15th for hearing of both applications.
On August 8, the suspended CBN governor filed an application before the Federal High Court, Lagos to stop the Federal Government from further prosecuting him on the charge of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunitions or on any other charge for that matter.
He’s also seeking an order of the court discharging him of all offenses prosecuted by the Government who is in “brazen disobedience” of the subsisting orders of the court granting him bail on July 25, 2023. And a further order prohibiting the FG from continuing to enjoy any form of indulgence from the courts except and unless it complies with the bail ruling.
Through his lawyers led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Joseph Daudu, the suspended CBN Governor filed the application before Vacation judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo who had admitted him to bail after his arraignment.
The application was filed pursuant to Section 6(6)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), relevant sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and under the inherent powers of the court.
Emefiele asked Justice Oweibo to stay further proceedings in the present charge until he exhausts all the remedies available to him in law to compel the government & the DSS to obey the order of the court admitting him to bail or remanding him in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Centre until he perfects his bail terms.
The application seeks to invoke the jurisdiction of the court to enforce its orders so as not to be seen as a toothless bull dog or paper tiger.
The applicant also says that the processes seeks to preserve and protect the efficacy, majesty and integrity of the court as well as the rule of law in our democracy .
Before Emefiele’s application, the Federal Government had on Aug 3rd filed an application before the same court seeking leave to appeal against the order granting bail to the suspended CBN governor.
In the application filed by a deputy director of public prosecutions of the Federation, Nkiru Jones-Nebo, the FG has also asked the court to stay the execution of the order to remand Emefiele in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional services and an order remanding him instead in the custody of the DSS.
Justice Oweibo had fixed Thursday, Aug 10 to hear the application.