The Federal Capital Territory High Court has granted bail to Godwin Emefiele, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who had been in custody for the past five months. This decision came after Justice Olukayode Adeniyi’s ruling, ordering Emefiele’s immediate release to his lawyers.
However, the judge has charged Emefiele’s legal team with the responsibility of ensuring his appearance in court for arraignment next week or on any other appointed date.
As part of the bail conditions, Emefiele has been directed to deposit his passport and travel documents with the chief registrar of the court until his arraignment takes place.
Justice Adeniyi emphasized the importance of not detaining individuals indefinitely without trial, noting that Emefiele had already spent 151 days in detention.
He stressed the necessity for the Nigerian Government and the Attorney General of the Federation to uphold the rule of law.
The substantive motion on notice and the preliminary objection in Emefiele’s case have been adjourned to November 17 for a hearing.
Emefiele charged with possessing illegal firearms
Emefiele’s legal troubles began when he was suspended by President Bola Tinubu on June 9, after which he was subsequently arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS). Initially, he faced charges of illegal possession of firearms and sponsoring terrorism.
In late October, There were reports that Emefiele had briefly regained his freedom when he was released on bail by the DSS. However, he was promptly picked up by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the orders of the Presidency, indicating a shift in the handling of his case.
The suspension of Emefiele was attributed to an ongoing investigation of his office and planned reforms in the financial sector. He was directed to hand over the affairs of his office to the Deputy Governor (Operations Directorate) pending the conclusion of the investigation and reforms.
How Emefiele escaped initial arrest
Emefiele’s legal woes had been ongoing for some time. In February, there was an attempt by the DSS to arrest him when Muhammadu Buhari was the President of Nigeria, but he was shielded by then-Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor, who provided soldiers to guard his residence and office.
The DSS had intensified its investigations into Emefiele, focusing on allegations of terrorism financing and fraud. Reports had also suggested that Emefiele was in plea bargaining discussions with President Bola Tinubu’s administration, which might have led to his temporary release from DSS custody.
It was rumored that the non-prosecution plea bargain was based on Emefiele’s willingness to return N50 billion that he had allegedly corruptly amassed. His arraignment for N6.9 billion procurement fraud was initially scheduled for August but was delayed, pending approval from President Tinubu, who was out of the country at the time.
However, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, Modupe Ogundoro, denied the existence of any non-prosecution plea bargain involving Emefiele, stating that no such agreement existed between the AGF’s office and Emefiele.
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