A Federal High Court in Lagos has scheduled August 15th to consider applications related to the custody of Godwin Emefiele, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The presiding judge, Nicholas Oweibo, took this decision on Thursday, adjourning the proceedings concerning applications seeking to halt further prosecution of the CBN chief. Another application from the federal government, aiming to challenge the bail granted to Emefiele by the court, will also be addressed on the same day.
On July 25th, Mr. Emefiele was formally charged with two counts involving the “illegal possession” of firearms and live ammunition. He was presented before a federal high court in Ikoyi and subsequently granted bail with a bond amount of N20 million.
The judge had instructed that Mr. Emefiele remains in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) until his bail conditions were met. However, the State Security Services (SSS) insisted on retaining custody, leading to a confrontation between the secret police and prison authorities.
Following the standoff, the SSS went against the court’s order and re-arrested Emefiele within the court premises. The SSS then applied to the Federal Capital Territory high court, seeking prolonged detention. This application was eventually withdrawn due to jurisdictional concerns.
On August 3rd, the federal government also filed an application before the Lagos Federal High Court to secure permission to appeal against the bail granted to Emefiele. In this application, Nkiru Jones-Nebo, a deputy director of public prosecutions, sought an appeal and requested a suspension of the order mandating Emefiele’s detention by the NCoS.
The federal government, instead, sought to have Emefiele remain in the custody of the SSS. Emefiele’s legal team countered this with their own application, asking the court to prevent the federal government from further prosecuting the case. They contended that the government’s actions directly disregard the court’s prior orders.
In his application, Emefiele requested that the court restrain the federal government from pursuing additional charges against him. He claimed that the government’s actions clearly violated the court’s order granting him bail. He also requested a suspension of ongoing proceedings in the present charge until he has exhausted all legal avenues to compel the government to follow the court’s order regarding his bail.
During the court proceedings on the recent date, K.A. Fagbemi, the prosecuting lawyer, urged the court to address the federal government’s application for a stay of execution on Emefiele’s bail order. Fagbemi argued that their application was submitted first, on August 4th, and served to the defense.
In response, Emefiele’s lawyer Victor Opara contended that the government’s filing date should not determine priority, given that they had violated the court’s order. Opara asserted that both applications should be treated on the same day, emphasizing that the federal government had nothing to lose as they still retained custody of the defendant.
After listening to both sides, the judge ruled that the applications from both parties would be deliberated upon on August 15th.