A High Court Justice of the Federal Capital Territory has ordered the release of Godwin Emefiele, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who has been in the custody of security agencies for about five months. The court also fixed November 15, 2023 for his arraignment.
Justice Olukayode Adegbola Adeniyi, who granted the bail, said the federal government had violated Emefiele’s constitutional right to personal liberty by detaining him beyond the time stipulated by law. He added that the government had already completed its investigation and prepared the charges against Emefiele since August this year.
The Judge based his decision on the principle of justice and fair play, as well as the provision of Section 35 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.
The Federal Government, represented by Oyin Koleoso, had opposed Emefiele’s bail application, arguing that he would interfere with his arraignment. However, the government did not provide any evidence to support this claim.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), through its counsel, Farouk Abudalla, also insisted that Emefiele had not spent three months in its custody and urged the court to deny the bail request.
Emefiele’s counsel, Mathew Burkaa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), countered the government’s arguments, saying that they were speculative and unfounded. He said that Emefiele was not a flight risk and that he had been investigated by a joint team of EFCC, Police and Department of the State Service (DSS), which are all government agencies.
The court, however, ruled in favour of Emefiele and ordered his release to his counsel, who must produce him on the day of his arraignment. Emefiele is also required to deposit his passport with the court registrar until his trial.