ABUJA – A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, has stopped the Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Inspector General of Police from arresting and detaining the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele over the alleged trumped up allegations of terrorism and sundry offences against him.
Others equally restrained by the court order are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria, who are listed as 1st, 2nd and 5th defendants.
Justice M. A. Hassan made the order while delivering judgment in a suit marked FCT/HC/CV/GAR/41/2022, filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Forum for Accountability and Good Leadership.
The judge held that the DSS ” acted wrongfully and illegally in instigating President Muhammadu Buhari against Mr. Godwin Emefiele in respect of the exercise of his statutory duty relating to the issuance of monetary policies and directives in the interest of the National Security and economy.
Justice Hassan further declared that in view of the ruling of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho in State Security Service(SSS) Vs Mr. Godwin Emefiele in suit no FHC/ ABJ/CS/ 2255/2022 delivered on December 15, 2022, any continuous harassment, intimidation, threats, restriction and free movement, abuse of right of office, surreptitious moves to arrest, and humiliation of Mr. Godwin Emefiele over trumped up allegations of terrorism financing and fraudulent practices etc, by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents and their offices is vindictive, unwarranted, abusive, oppressive and same constitute a flagrant breach of his rights to personal liberty, dignity and human person and illegal and unconstitutional.
An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents, their agents, servants and all officers under their command from instigating the arrest or arresting, interrogating and detaining Mr. Godwin Emefiele in respect of any matter or policy decision on the economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or any connected purposes.
Before Thursday judgment, Justice Hassan had on December 19, granted an exparte application restraining the defendants from arresting and detaining the CBN governor.
The exparte application was moved by counsel to the applicant, Emeka Ozoani SAN, wherein, Justice M.A. Hassan specifically ordered as follows:
”The 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants/respondents are hereby restrained in the interim whether by themselves, their officers, agents, servants, privies or acting through any person or persons howsoever from inviting, arresting and / or detaining the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin 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 the Central Bank of Nigeria, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”
The court equally granted an order of substituted service on the 5th defendant/respondent (the CBN) by delivering the originating summons and other processes to the legal department of the bank, at its Headquarters in Abuja.
Meanwhile, the court has ordered an accelerated hearing in the matter and consequently abridged the time of both the respondents and applicant.
In his judgment, the judge held that the continued harassment of Emefiele on the basis of the allegations by the DSS is illegal and constitutes a breach of his fundamental rights as provided for in the 1999 Constitution and African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
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 because the DSS failed to provide sufficient evidence to warrant the issuance of an arrest warrant against Mr. Emefiele.
The judge said the depositions in the affidavit filed by the SSS 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, Justice Tsoho said: “These are no doubt grave allegations, but which the applicant has not presented any concrete evidence to support.”
Justice Hassan said the DSS cannot continue to harass or arrest Governor Emefiele over any trumped-up allegations unless an order of a superior court is first obtained.
Justice Hassan 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.