Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court has granted former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, bail.
The judge ordered that Emefiele be released immediately to his lawyers, who were charged with the responsibility of producing him in court for his arraignment next week or at any other day.
According to the judge, the ex-bank chief must also deposit his travel documents before the chief registrar of the court, pending his arraignment.
The judge also pointed out that there must be an end to detention, without trial.
The court must also not overlook the fact that he has been in detention for 151 days and the Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation must abide by court order.
The substantive motion on notice as well as the preliminary objection, were adjourned to November 17, 2023 for hearing.
Emefiele’s Long Travails
Emefiele’s travails started when President Bola Tinubu suspended him as the apex bank chief on June 9, 2023. A day after, the Department of State Services (DSS) confirmed that the embattled and suspended CBN chief was in its custody.
After several legal fireworks by Emefiele’s counsel challenging his prolonged detention by the DSS, the secret police bowed to pressure on July 13, 2023 and announced that the suspended apex bank chief had been charged to court.
Emefiele was brought to a Lagos court by DSS operatives in a hilux vehicle on Tuesday, July 25, 2023.
Appearing before Justice Oweibo, Emefiele, 61, pleaded “not guilty” to the two counts of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition filed against him by the Federal Government.
Later in August, the DSS withdrew its charges against Emefiele. The secret police freed the embattled ex-bank chief on October 26 just as the anti-graft commission detained him the same day.
Emefiele In Court
The EFCC had failed to produce Emefiele in court at the previous sitting on Monday but the anti-graft agency bowed to the order of the court and produced the former CBN chief court on Wednesday for the hearing of his bail application.
Emefiele has been in the custody of security agencies for over 150 days.
Dressed in a yellow Kaftan and a cap and flanked by operatives of the EFCC, the former CBN governor arrived at the courtroom at about 12:30 pm on Wednesday.
Justice Adeniyi had on Monday, reaffirmed his order that the detained former CBN governor be brought to court today for the purpose of admitting him to bail.
At the resumed hearing, counsel for Emefiele, Mathew Burkaa, applied that his client be admitted to bail on liberal terms, having been in the custody of security agencies for 151 days. He made this application to Provisions of Section 35 (4a and b) of the 1999 constitution.
While objecting to the bail application, counsel for the Attorney General of the Federation and the Federal Government, Onyi Koleosho, pointed out that Emefiele was transferred to the custody of the EFCC on October 26, and that date is not up to two months.
He stated that a hearing notice has been issued by the court to the effect that Emefiele will be arraigned on November 15, 2023, in respect of a pending charge filed by the office of the AGF.
He said the court should decline the application for Emefiele’s release in the interest of justice, and to avoid a situation where the scheduled arraignment may interfere with investigations, adding that releasing him will pose further problems and difficulties for the prosecution to get him to attend court next week, for his arraignment.
Counsel for the EFCC, Farouk Abdallah, agreed that the issue of bail is at the discretion of the court.
In a further submission, Counsel for Emefiele pointed out that his client has not been served any charge to date. He assured the court that the former CBN governor is not a flight risk and doesn’t have the capacity to stop his arraignment by the Federal Government next week.
Noting that his client has been in custody all this while, the lawyer noted that Nigeria would lose nothing by granting Emefiele bail.
During the proceeding, Emefiele was also given the room to address the court. He said he hasn’t been charged till date.
Counsel for the EFCC, however, said he is taken aback by these claims because when Emefiele was brought before a sister court (Justice Muazu), he was meant to take his plea.
The EFCC counsel further prayed the court to impose terms that are attainable for Emefiele to come to court on November 15 for him to take his plea.
In his ruling on Wednesday, the judge granted Emefiele bail.
The substantive motion on notice as well as the preliminary objection were adjourned to November 17, 2023 for hearing.