In a significant development, an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama has granted bail to Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, in a landmark ruling today, ordered Emefiele’s immediate release into the custody of his legal representatives.
Justice Adeniyi emphasized the importance of ending detention without trial, highlighting that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had failed to comply with the court’s order issued on November 2, leading to this decision.
The court also noted that it could not allow Emefiele to remain in custody based on the Federal Government’s claim that he would face fresh charges on November 15. Justice Adeniyi found this claim speculative, as there was no concrete evidence to support the scheduled arraignment.
Furthermore, the court scrutinized a purported remand order provided by the FG’s legal counsel, which bore conflicting dates. Justice Adeniyi stressed the critical fact that Emefiele had been in custody for over 151 days without trial.
Citing section 298(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, the court asserted its authority to issue necessary orders, even in the presence of a remand order against the applicant. Consequently, the court directed that Emefiele should be released to a team of three Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) representing him in the matter.
These lawyers are responsible for producing Emefiele in court on November 15 for his planned arraignment or any other date required by the court. Justice Adeniyi also instructed Emefiele to surrender all his international documents to the most senior Registrar of the court, pending his arraignment.
Further proceedings in the case have been adjourned until November 17.
This ruling follows a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by the former CBN governor, who has been in detention for approximately five months, through his legal team led by Mr. Matthew Burkaa, SAN.
Respondents in the suit include the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the EFCC itself.
Recall that President Bola Tinubu suspended Emefiele from his role as the head of the apex bank on June 9. Subsequently, he was arrested at his Lagos residence by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Emefiele has faced a two-count charge of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition before the Federal High Court in Lagos, as well as a 20-count corruption charge brought against him and two others before an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama. However, proceedings in both cases were put on hold as the defendants sought a plea bargain deal with the FG.
Following his transfer to the EFCC detention facility by the DSS, the FG opposed Emefiele’s request for bail, citing a fresh charge scheduled for November 15.
In compliance with Justice Adeniyi’s directive, the EFCC produced Emefiele in court today for the hearing of his bail application as ordered by the FCT High Court.