On Wednesday, a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory admitted former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, Godwin Emefiele, to bail after he had been held in jail by security forces of the Federal Government for 151 days.
Despite strong objections from the Federal Government (represented by the AGF and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), the court ordered Emefiele released to await his arraignment on November 15.
The bail was granted because Justice Olukayode Adegbola Adeniyi found that Emefiele had been held in government custody for too long.
The Federal Government had completed its investigation into the claims against the former CBN Chief and had even prepared the charges against him as early as August of this year, which the Judge used as the basis for his ruling.
Justice Adeniyi ruled in favor of Mathew Burkaa’s (a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN) bail plea, citing the provision of section 35 of the Nigerian Constitution as a justification.
The judge singled out the federal government’s practice of indefinite detention without trial.
The Assistant Attorney General and the Federal Government, through Oyin Koleoso, strenuously objected to Emefiele’s bail application on the grounds that he would interfere with the arraignment scheduled for November 15. However, they could not provide details on how this interference would occur.
EFCC on its part through its counsel, Farouk Abudalla, claimed that Emefiele had not spent three months in its own custody and urged the Court to dismiss the bail motion.
However, the applicant’s attorney pierced the Federal Government’s opposition by arguing that his client was not considered a flight danger, rendering the claim of interference in arraignment as hypothetical.
According to his statement to Justice Ademiyi, the EFCC’s claim that Emefiele was only taken into jail on October 26 should be disregarded.
The senior attorney told the judge that a government agency comprised of investigators from the EFCC, the police, and the Department of State Services (DSS, had been looking into the former head of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
However, among others, Emefiele must be released to his senior lawyer, Matthew Burkaa, SAN, who must produce him any day the Federal Government chooses to arraign him.
While waiting for his formal arraignment, Emefiele must also leave his passport with the court’s Registrar.