Justice Orders Bail for Godwin Emefiele After Lengthy Detention
Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja has granted bail to the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, who had been in custody since June 6, 2023. His detention followed his removal from office by President Bola Tinubu.
Protracted Detention and Legal Battle
Emefiele’s suspension on June 10 led to his apprehension by the Department of State Services (DSS), where he remained in custody until October 26, despite a court order for his release. After his release by the DSS, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) promptly took him into custody.
To secure his freedom, Emefiele filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit, asserting that his extended detention without trial was unlawful and seeking damages of five million naira.
Court Orders Release
Following an ex parte motion in the suit, Justice Adeniyi ordered the EFCC to release Emefiele unconditionally or produce him in court on November 6. However, the EFCC did not comply with the order and did not bring Emefiele to court as instructed.
Consequently, the judge restated his order and mandated the EFCC to present Emefiele before the court on Wednesday.
Legal Arguments in Court
During the court proceedings, the Attorney-General of the Federation’s counsel argued that Emefiele had not been in detention for 100 days and urged the judge not to release him on bail. He mentioned that the federal government planned to arraign Emefiele on November 15 in another pending case.
Counsel for the EFCC argued that Emefiele’s custody was based on a subsisting court order. He emphasised that the court had ordered Emefiele to return on November 10, and releasing him on bail might lead to conflicting directives.
Emefiele’s counsel contended that the court had the authority to grant bail. He pointed out that Emefiele had not been served with any court process relating to the November 15 case.
Justice Adeniyi ruled that the court had the authority to make necessary orders, even in the presence of a remand order. He stated that Emefiele’s prolonged detention was a crucial factor and that the proposed arraignment was not sufficient to deny him bail.
Consequently, the judge ordered Emefiele’s release to his counsel, with the instruction to produce him at court proceedings. He also required Emefiele to deposit all his international documents with the court pending the determination of his case.