A FEDERAL Capital Territory (FCT) High Court has issued a seven days ultimatum to the Department of the State Security Service (DSS) to charge the detained suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele to court, or release him.
The court gave the order on Thursday, July 13, after hearing a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by Emefiele to challenge his arrest and detention by the DSS.
The presiding judge, Hamza Muazu, noted that while Emefiele has not demonstrated that his detention and investigation were illegal, it is within his rights to have a fair hearing.
The judge added that the suspended CBN governor cannot be held in custody without a formal charge and that the DSS is not permitted to look for evidence against Emefiele while he is being held.
Justice Muazu held that the security outfit has the authority to carry out its constitutional obligations to make arrests, keep people in custody, and ensure the prevention of internal crime, but emphasised that these obligations must be fulfilled in accordance with the law.
Muazu described the DSS as a renowned organisation tasked with ensuring the nation’s internal security and demanded that it carry out its duties strictly in accordance with the Constitution.
“Though I am in sympathy with the Applicant (Emefiele), but my sentiment will not go far to deliver judgment by granting all the reliefs sought by the Applicant.
“The Applicant has not shown that his arrest, detention and investigation were unlawful.
“However, I am concerned that the application is not without merit. The Applicant is entitled to a fair hearing.
“At this point, the continued detention of the Applicant cannot be justified in the absence of any charge against him.
“Consequently, I hereby make an order, directing the Respondents (DSS and AGF) to within one week, charge the Applicant to court or release him on administrative bail,” the judge said.
Emefiele filed a lawsuit against the Director General of the DSS and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to have his fundamental human rights to freedom of movement and respect for life enforced.
In the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/6450/23, the suspended CBN governor had applied that his arrest and detention since June 10 without valid order of court be voided and set aside.
Emefiele demanded compensation of N5 million as exemplary damages for his alleged unlawful detention.
The ICIR reported that the DSS confirmed the arrest of Emefiele, who was suspended by President Bola Tinubu on June 9.
Emefiele’s arrest was confirmed by the spokesperson of the DSS, Peter Afunanya, in a tweet posted on the agency’s official Twitter handle on Saturday, June 10.
The ICIR also reported that Tinubu suspended Emefiele with immediate effect and directed him to hand over the affairs of the CBN to the deputy governor, operations directorate, Folashodun Shonubi.
Emefiele’s suspension was announced in a statement released on June 9 by Willie Bassey, director of information, Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
The DSS did not state or give any reason for Emefiele’s arrest. However, it may not be unconnected with the allegations the agency had levelled against him.
DSS had in 2022 attempted to arrest Emefiele, accusing him of financing terrorism, aiding and abetting terrorism, and committing other economic crimes.
The DSS alleged that Emefiele funded the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) with the resources he raised for his failed presidential bid on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The security agency also accused him of fraud, money laundering, round-tripping and conferment of financial benefits to himself and others.
On December 7, 2022, the DSS filed an ex-parte motion at the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking permission to arrest, probe and detain Emefiele.
However, on December 9, 2022, the court declined the application.