A federal high court sitting in FCT, Abuja has declined an application by the Department of State Services (DSS) to arrest and detain Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Chief Judge, Justice JT Tsoho, in declining the motion ex parte in his ruling, filed by an applicant in the absence of the respondent said the secret police did not provide any concrete evidence to substantiate its claims that Emefiele was involved in terrorism financing and economic crimes.
In the ruling of the court cited by some national dailies, the judge said he should have been taken into confidence if there was any evidence to back the allegations in the application, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/2255/2022.
The honourable judge also wondered why the name of the respondent was given simply as ‘Godwin Emefiele’ without a material disclosure that he is the same person as the CBN governor, a highly ranking public official who occupies an extremely sensitive position,”.
The court said such an application should have been accompanied with the presidential approval because of the grave implications for the Nigerian economy if the CBN governor is arrested and detained.
The ruling reads in part, “Upon perusal of the documents that constitute the Applicant’s Motion Ex parte dated and filed on 7/12/2022, I am constrained to make the following vital observations:
“1. The entire affidavit depositions, especially as per paragraph 4 of the supporting affidavit, 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. These are no doubt, grave allegations, but which the Applicant has not presented any concrete evidence to support.
“The Applicant should have taken the Court into confidence, while seeking the exercise of its discretion in favour of granting Its application. It is my respectful opinion that the ipse dixit of the Applicant standing on its own, is not sufficient evidence upon which to deprive a person of his liberty.
“2. The Respondent in this application is named as “Godwin Emefiele” without disclosure of his status or position anywhere; not even In the affidavit. It is left to speculation if the “Godwin Emefiele” is the same person as the serving Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. If it is, then he is unarguably a high ranking Public Official In Nigeria and Indeed occupies a sensitive position as one of the key drivers of the Nation’s Economy. Therefore, an application of this kind should have evidence of the approval of the Respondent’s boss, that such measures are authorised to be taken. I however do not find such evidence in this Instant application, whereas it is a necessary procedure in the observance of the Rule of Law disclosed in the supporting affidavit.
“This is not the situation here, as Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor was shown on Television, even last night, having audience with the President of Nigeria. It therefore seems that the Applicant Intends to use the Court, as a cover for an irregular procedure, which is unacceptable.
“In the light of the foregoing reasons, I decline to grant this application Ex parte. If the Applicant believes that the evidence available to it so far is sufficient, then it can as well arrest and detain the Applicant, even without the Order of this Court. If however the Applicant desires to still pursue this application, then It should place the Respondent on Notice, considering the sensitive Public Office that he occupies.”