Court stops DSS, IGP from arresting, detaining Emefiele over terrorism allegation
A High Court of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on Thursday, restrained the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) from arresting and detaining Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), over allegations bordering on terrorism and sundry offences.
In a judgment, on Thursday, Justice M. A. Hassan, also stopped the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) and the CBN, listed as 1st, 2nd and 5th defendants respectively from taking any action against Emefiele.
The Incorporated Trustees of Forum for Accountability and Good Leadership had, in a suit marked: FCT/HC/CV/GAR/41/2022, sued all the defendants.
It would be recalled that Justice Hassan had, on December 19, granted an ex-parte application restraining the defendants from arresting and detaining the CBN governor.
In the ex-parte application moved by counsel for the applicant, Emeka Ozoani SAN, Justice Hassan had specifically restrained the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants/respondents or their agents from inviting, arresting and /or detaining Emefiele 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 CBN, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
The court equally granted an order of substituted service on the 5th defendant/respondent (CBN) by delivering the originating summons and other processes to the legal department of the bank at its headquarters in Abuja.
The judge then ordered an accelerated hearing in the matter and consequently abridged the time of both the respondents and applicant.
Delivering the judge on Thursday, Justice Hassan held that the continued harassment of Emefiele on the basis of the allegations by the DSS was illegal and constituted a breach of his fundamental rights as provided for in the 1999 Constitution and African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
It would be recalled that the DSS had, in an exparte application marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2255/2022, sought for an order to arrest the CBN governor over alleged “acts of financing terrorism, fraudulent activities and economic crimes of national security dimension.”
But the Chief judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, in a ruling delivered on December 9, rejected the application on the grounds that the DSS failed to provide sufficient evidence to warrant the issuance of an arrest warrant against Emefiele.
Tsoho said the depositions in the affidavit filed by the DSS 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.”
In addition, he said: “These are no doubt grave allegations, but which the applicant has not presented any concrete evidence to support.”
In the same vein, Justice Hassan held that the DSS cannot continue to harass or arrest Emefiele over any trumped up allegations, unless an order of a superior court is first obtained.
Hassan further 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 John Tsoho, 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 judge agreed with the EFCC’s position that there is a process for the removal of the CBN 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 had 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 obviously all other respondents, except the DSS, are nominal parties as no case was really made against them.
Justice Hassan stated that the applicant had shown sufficient locus standi to initiate the suit in line with fundamental human rights rules.
The judge, however, did not award damages as the suit was not taken out by Godwin Emefiele himself.