A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, has restrained the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and Department of State Services (DSS) from inviting, arresting or detaining the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele.
The trial judge, Muslim A Hassan, gave the order, following an ex parte motion marked: GARM/92/2022, filed by the Incorporated Trustees of the Forum for Accountability and Good Leadership against five defendants on 19th December 2022.
Besides the already named defendants, the other two are the Attorney-General of the Federation (1st defendant) and CBN (5th defendant).
Justice Hassan, upon hearing Emeka Ozoani (SAN), counsel for the applicant, barred the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants, whether by themselves, their officers, agents, servants, privies or through anybody whatsoever from arresting or detaining the apex bank boss.
The court ordered an accelerated hearing and abridged the time within which the defendants are to file a counter-affidavit to the motion on notice and the originating summons.
The court held that continuous harassment of Emefiele over trumped-up allegations of terrorism and sundry offences is illegal and constitutes a breach of his fundamental rights, as contained in the African Charter and the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
The court held that Exhibit A submitted by the 4th defendant (DSS), which was an affidavit also submitted to Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, did not substantiate or provide any material fact of terrorism, and that the 4th defendant’s acts are obvious attempts to interfere with the rights of Emefiele.
The court aligned with the 5th defendant’s (CBN) position that there is a process for the removal of its governor, adding that the continuous harassment and interference by the 4th defendant is embarrassing in the light of statutory provisions.
EFCC had, in the affidavit, stated that it has no case against the governor and that he (the governor) is not under the agency’s investigation.
EFCC asked that it be discharged from the matter, being an unnecessary party.
The court held that all other defendants except the DSS are nominal parties, as no case was really made out against them.
However, the court refused to award damages against the defendants on the ground that it was not Emefiele that filed the action by himself.