Court Stops DSS From Arresting CBN Gov Emefiele
The Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) have been stopped by a High Court in Abuja from arresting and detaining the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.
The security agencies had made moves to arrest Emefiele over the allegations of terrorism and sundry offences against him.
The court on Thursday also restrained the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria, who are listed as 1st, 2nd and 5th defendants.
The presiding judge, Justice MA Hassan gave the order while delivering judgment in a suit marked FCT/HC/CV/GAR/41/2022, filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Forum for Accountability and Good Leadership.
Justice Hassan before the ruling on Thursday had on the 19th of December granted an exparte application restraining the defendants from arresting and detaining the CBN governor.
The exparte application was moved by counsel to the applicant, Emeka Ozoani, SAN, wherein, Justice M.A. Hassan specifically ordered as follows ”The 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants/respondents are hereby restrained in the interim whether by themselves, their officers, agents, servants, privies or acting through any person or persons howsoever from inviting, arresting and/or detaining the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiel,e with particular allegations of acts of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities, or any other manner howsoever that may interfere with his rights to freedom of movement, personal liberty, human dignity or in any way interfere with the performance and discharge of his official functions and duties as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”
The court equally granted an order of substituted service on the 5th defendant/respondent (the CBN) by delivering the originating summons and other processes to the legal department of the bank, at its Headquarters in Abuja.
Meanwhile, the court has ordered an accelerated hearing in the matter and consequently abridged the time of both the respondents and the applicant.
The judge in his judgement held that the continued harassment of Emefiele on the basis of the allegations by the DSS is illegal and constitutes a breach of his fundamental rights as provided for in the 1999 Constitution and African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The DSS had in an exparte application marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2255/2022, sought an order to arrest the CBN Governor over alleged acts of financing terrorism, fraudulent activities and economic crimes of national security dimension.
The Chief judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, in a ruling delivered on December 9, however, rejected the application on the grounds that the DSS failed to provide sufficient evidence to warrant the issuance of an arrest warrant against Emefiele.
The judge said the depositions in the affidavit filed by the SSS in support of its application “purport that preliminary investigation has revealed various acts of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities perpetrated by the respondent and his involvement in economic crimes of national security dimension.”
Justice Tsoho further stated, “These are no doubt grave allegations, but which the applicant has not presented any concrete evidence to support.”
Justice Hassan said the DSS cannot continue to harass or arrest Governor Emefiele over any trumped-up allegations unless an order of a superior court is first obtained.
Justice Hassan held that Exhibit A, submitted by the 4th respondent (DSS), which was the Affidavit also submitted to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice JohnTsoho, did not substantiate or provide any material fact of terrorism and that the 4th respondent’s acts are obvious attempts to interfere with the rights of Godwin Emefiele.
The Court agreed with the EFCC (5th Respondent) position that there is a process for the removal of the Governor, thus the continued harassment and interference by the 4th Respondent particularly is embarrassing in the light of statutory provisions.
In its counter affidavit, the EFCC stated that it has no case against Emefiele as he is not under investigation by the Commission.
Consequently, the anti-graft agency asked the court to discharge it from the matter on the ground that it is not a necessary party.
Court held that all other respondents except the 4th DSS are nominal parties as no case was really made against them.
Justice Hassan stated that Applicant had shown sufficient locus standi to initiate this Suit in line with Fundamental Human Rights Rules.
Court held that it will not award damages as the suit was not taken out by Godwin Emefiele himself.