Alleged N6.9bn Fraud: Again Emefiele, others’ arraignment stalled
The arraignment of the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Gov. Godwin Emefiele and two others before an FCT failed to hold on Wednesday.
Though the court sat to hear other cases, no reason was given for the failure of the arraignment of the embattled Emefiele and his other co-defendants
Emeifele is charged by the Federal Government alongside Sa’adatu Yaro and a company, April 1616 Investment Ltd, on a 20-count charge bordering on procurement fraud, conferment of advantage and conspiracy, among others.
The arraignment was first scheduled to hold on August 17 but was stalled due to the absence of the second defendant, Yaro.
She was said to have been ill that morning, though Emefiele was brought to court by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS).
When the matter was called before Justice Hamza Muazu, a vacation judge, the prosecuting counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, who is the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the Federal Ministry of Justice, told the court that Yaro took ill and as such could not make it to court for the arraignment.
Due to the development, Abubakar sought for a new date for the arraignment of the embattled Emefiele and the two co-defendants in the suit.
The application was, however, not objected to by counsel to Emefiele, Akinlolu Kehinde SAN and counsel for Yaro, Lawal Lebi.
Following the application with no objection from the defence team, Justice Muazu adjourned the case to August 23 for arraignment of the defendants.
However, the matter was not listed on the court’s cause list for, while neither the prosecution nor defence teams were in court.
When contacted via telephone, Emefiele’s counsel, Akinlolu SAN said a new date for the arraignment might likely be given by the FCT Chief Judge, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf.
In another development, another vacation judge, Justice Edwin Okpe struck out two separate cases filed by two siblings of Emefiele, George and Okanta Emefiele, seeking an order against being arrested by the DSS.
The Emefiele brothers had separately approached the court, seeking, among other reliefs, its order of perpetual injunction restraining the secret police from inviting, intimidating, harassing, and arresting or detaining them in relation “to matters or body of matters which relates to the ongoing investigation of Mr Godwin Emefiele and/or matters outside the constitutional and statutory mandate of the 1st respondent (DSS)”.
The plaintiffs in the two cases, marked FCT/HC/CV/7050/2023 and FCT/HC/CV/7051/2023 respectively, joined the DSS and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) as respondents.
The judge had on August 4 restrained the DSS from arresting the siblings, while ruling in the two ex-parte motions brought before the court by the Emefiele siblings.
He held that the restraining order, made in respect of the two applicants, shall subsist pending the determination of the fundamental rights enforcement suits filed separately by George and Okanta.
At the resumed hearing of the separate cases today, counsel for the applicants, Grace Ehusani, informed the court that the applicants separately filed a notice of discountenance of the cases, though she did not give any reasons for the application.
While not opposing the application, counsel for the DSS, I Awo, told the court that since the respondents had joined issues with the applicants, the court should rather dismiss the cases, instead of striking them out as requested by Ehusani.
He then asked for a substantial cost, to be determined by the court against the applicants in favor of the respondents.
Counsel for the AGF, Maimuma Lami-Sheru aligned herself with the submission of the DSS counsel, submitting that in. line with Order 24 Rule 1 (1) of the FCT High Court Rules, the applicants should pay cost and therefore asked for a cost of N2million against the applicants.
In his bench ruling, Justice Okpe struck out the cases and ordered that no cost should be paid by the applicants since the respondents are government agencies. (NAN)