There is controversy surrounding the handling of the bail granted to the embattled former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele by Justice Olukayode Adeniyi.
SaharaReporters reported on Wednesday that Justice Adeniyi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja had granted Emefiele bail.
Justice Adeniyi ordered that Emefiele should be immediately released to his lawyers.
He, however, charged Emefiele’s lawyers with the responsibility of producing him in court for his arraignment next week or any other day and ordered Emefiele to deposit his passport and other travel documents before the registrar of the court, pending his arraignment.
BREAKING: Nigerian Court Grants Embattled Ex-Central Bank Governor, Emefiele Bail After 5 Months In Detention
Nov 08, 2023
According to Justice Adeniyi, Emefiele should not be detained in perpetuity without trial.According to Justice Adeniyi, Emefiele should not be detained in perpetuity without trial.BREAKING: Nigerian Court Grants Embattled Ex-Central Bank Governor, Emefiele Bail After 5 Months In Detention
Nov 08, 2023
According to Justice Adeniyi, Emefiele should not be detained in perpetuity without trial.
“There must be an end to prolonged detention,” he said.
The court noted that Emefiele had been detained for 151 days, adding that the Nigerian Government and the Attorney General of the Federation must obey the rule of law.
The court subsequently adjourned the substantive motion on notice as well as the preliminary objection to November 17 for a hearing.
However, government sources told SaharaReporters on Thursday that the judge had been put under the spotlight over his handling of Emefiele’s bail.
One, the judge was accused of refusing to allow Emefiele to be processed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after granting him bail.
Two, even though the judge directed that Emefiele’s “international documents must be deposited with the registrar of this court pending the determination of his case”, sources said that was not done by the former CBN governor and his lawyers, yet he was allowed to go home.
Also, the counsel for the EFCC, Farouk Abdullahi, had argued that Emefiele was put in the custody of the anti-corruption agency on October 26 pursuant to a detention order made by the court and that he would be arraigned in a criminal case that had been scheduled to come up on November 15.
However, sources said eyebrows were raised over the judge’s refusal to act on the arguments posed by the EFCC counsel.
“Judge in Emefiele’s case has been accused of compromising on the ex-CBN governor’s case. He granted him bail but refused to let him get processed by the EFCC,” one of the sources said.
“EFCC had filed another case of corruption against Emefiele and presented a detention order and a hearing date for next Wednesday before one Justice Muazu but the judge refused to listen and act on the arguments.”
“Emefiele is now at his Abuja home under surveillance. He and his lawyers also refused to deposit his passport as requested by the judge,” another source said.
Emefiele was suspended by President Bola Tinubu on June 9 and subsequently arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Emefiele was first charged with illegal possession of firearms and sponsoring terrorism by the DSS but the charges were later dropped and the former apex bank governor and his associates were set for arraignment on N6.9 billion procurement fraud at the Federal Capital Territory High Court in August but the arraignment was stalled.
In late October, SaharaReporters reported that Emefiele briefly regained his freedom after he was released by the DSS.
He was however picked up immediately by EFCC personnel.
“Emefiele regained his freedom last night but he was immediately picked up by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,” a top security source had told SaharaReporters.
It was learnt that the Presidency directed the EFCC to take over the case.
SaharaReporters had reported that Emefiele was suspended “sequel to the ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the financial sector of the economy.”
A release by Willie Bassey, the Director of Information, for the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, has also said, “Mr Emefiele has been directed to immediately hand over the affairs of his office to the Deputy Governor (Operations Directorate), who will act as the Central Bank Governor pending the conclusion of investigation and the reforms.”
SaharaReporters in February reported how the DSS attempted to arrest Emefiele when Muhammadu Buhari was Nigeria’s president, but the then-Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor, shielded him by providing soldiers to guard his residence and office.
The DSS had said it intensified its investigations in order to arrest and prosecute Emefiele, on allegations of terrorism financing and fraud.
SaharaReporters had also reported that Emefiele was set to be released from detention by the DSS after entering into plea bargaining with President Tinubu’s administration.
SaharaReporters had gathered that the non-prosecution plea bargain for Emefiele was premised upon the former governor’s willingness to return N50 billion which he had corruptly amassed.
Sources had told SaharaReporters that Emefiele’s arraignment was stalled because the Attorney General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) was awaiting Tinubu’s approval for it after signing the non-prosecution plea bargain.
President Tinubu was out of the country at the time.
Emefiele faced 20 counts of conspiracy and procurement fraud levelled against him by the Nigerian government.
However, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, Modupe Ogundoro, denied the existence of any non-prosecution plea bargain involving Emefiele.
Ogundoro said though the legal team representing Emefiele had expressed its intention in court at the last hearing to initiate a plea bargain arrangement, no such agreement existed between the office of the AGF and the former CBN governor.