The Federal High Court in Lagos has postponed further proceedings on the applications submitted by the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele. He seeks to prevent the Federal Government from continuing to detain or prosecute him on charges related to illegal firearm possession and ammunition, as well as any other potential charges.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo deemed the application, which addresses the court’s jurisdiction, a priority. It will be treated concurrently with another application filed by the government. The government’s application seeks permission to appeal the bail granted to the suspended CBN governor.
Victor Opara, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria representing Emefiele, emphasized the importance of the application due to the Department of State Services’ continuous disregard for a court order regarding the bail application for his client. Opara requested a brief adjournment to respond to the prosecution’s reply on legal grounds.
On the other hand, the Federal Government’s counsel, Assistant Chief State Counsel Kehinde Fagbemi, disagreed. She stated that the government had filed its application first, seeking leave to appeal and requesting a suspension of court proceedings pending the appeal.
Fagbemi urged the court to hear the government’s application and subsequently grant an adjournment to address Emefiele’s application. The court will reconvene on Tuesday, August 15th, to further deliberate on these matters.
“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 Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor submitted a formal request to the Federal High Court in Lagos. This application aims to halt the Federal Government from further prosecuting him on charges of possessing a firearm and ammunition, or any other related offenses.
Additionally, the suspended governor seeks a court order to absolve him of all offenses the government is pursuing. He highlights the government’s “brazen disobedience” of the court’s prior bail orders issued on July 25, 2023. Furthermore, he requests an order that prevents the Federal Government from receiving any legal leniency from the court until it complies with the bail ruling.
The application was filed by his legal team, led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Joseph Daudu. This action is based on Section 6(6)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), relevant sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, and the inherent powers of the court.
Emefiele, through this application, asks Justice Oweibo to pause ongoing proceedings in the current charge until he has exhausted all legal remedies available to compel the government and the Department of State Services (DSS) to adhere to the court’s bail order.
Alternatively, he requests that the court remand him in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Center until he fulfills the bail conditions.
The intent behind this application is to invoke the court’s jurisdiction in enforcing its orders, avoiding any perception of ineffectiveness. The applicant emphasizes that these legal processes are vital for upholding the court’s authority, maintaining the rule of law, and preserving the dignity of our democracy.
Before Emefiele’s application, the Federal Government submitted its own application to the same court on August 3rd. This government application, filed by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, Nkiru Jones-Nebo, seeks permission to appeal the bail order granted to the suspended CBN governor.
The Federal Government also asks the court to stay the execution of the order to remand Emefiele in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services, instead preferring that he be placed in the custody of the Department of State Services.
Justice Oweibo scheduled a hearing for the government application on Thursday, August 10th.