Justice Hamza Muazu of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court has given an order to the Department of State Services (DSS) to either bring charges against or release Godwin Emefiele, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), within a week.
Emefiele, who was suspended from his position as CBN Governor on June 10, filed a lawsuit against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Director General of the DSS, and the DSS itself for his alleged unlawful arrest and detention. He also sought damages of N5 million from the defendants.
In his motion, Emefiele aimed to protect his right to freedom and movement, arguing that there was no valid reason for his ongoing detention.
During the court hearing on the jurisdiction of the case regarding Emefiele’s arrest and detention, Justice Muazu affirmed that a State High Court has the authority to address the charges against the former CBN Governor. The judge acknowledged that the DSS acted lawfully within its mandate to arrest, detain, and investigate in order to prevent threats to national security.
While it was revealed that there was an order from an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court allowing the security agency to detain Emefiele for 14 days for the purpose of concluding their investigations, the judge emphasized that Emefiele’s fundamental human rights should not be violated under any circumstances.
Justice Muazu stated that the DSS’s power of arrest must adhere to the provisions of the law, which specify the conditions and duration under which a Nigerian citizen can be held. He ordered the DSS to either charge Emefiele in court within one week or release him, emphasizing that the charges against Emefiele are bailable and he has the right to a fair trial.
The judge said, “While I sympathize with the Applicant, I cannot grant all the reliefs sought since he has not proven that his arrest and detention were unlawful. However, I find merit in the application. The Applicant deserves a fair hearing. At this point, the continued detention of the Applicant without any charges cannot be justified. At the very least, justice requires that the Applicant be released on administrative bail. Therefore, I hereby order the Respondents to either charge the Applicant to a court or release him on administrative bail within one week.”
Following the court session, Emefiele’s counsel, Dawodu (SAN), expressed optimism that the government would comply with the court’s decision. He stated that the process to secure Emefiele’s release would commence immediately. Dawodu also highlighted the importance of the government respecting court orders, especially as the President himself had previously criticized military governments for disregarding such orders.