The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Abuja has ordered the Department of State Services, DSS, to immediately release the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, from detention.
The presiding judge, Justice Hamza Muazu, gave the order after hearing the arguments of all parties in the matter.
The secret police had last month said the suspended CBN Governor was in their custody. The statement came hours after they initially denied that Emefiele was “currently” not in their custody.
Emefiele, through his counsel, challenged his detention by the Department of State Services (DSS) and the denial of access to members of his family and counsel.
The council, among others, sought an order setting aside, quashing, invalidating, and nullifying the arrest, detention of the Applicant (Mr. Godwin Emefiele) for being illegal and a nullity, in view of the subsisting Orders and Judgment of the Court in Suit No: FCT/HCAGAR/CV/41/2022 delivered by the Honourable Justice M. A. Hassan on 29th December 2022.
He also sought an ORDER setting aside, voiding, quashing, invalidating, and nullifying any warrant of arrest or warrant of detention or any other order for the detention of the Applicant obtained is procured by the Respondents (particularly the State Security Service) for the arrest, detention and/or interrogation of the Applicant (Mr. Godwin Emefiele) in connection with the allegations of terrorism financing, fraudulent practices, money laundering, round-tripping, a threat to national security, etc from any other Court, during the subsistence of the Orders and
Justice Hamza Muazu, in his ruling on Thursday in Abuja, observed that detention, no matter how short, is a breach of fundamental rights, but it must be determined whether detention is legal or illegal.
He noted that the applicant is entitled to a fair hearing, continued detention cannot be justified without a charge, and the offenses alleged are bailable.
While ruling that the applicant be released on bail, the Judge gave the respondent one week to charge the applicant to court or release him.
Reacting to the court ruling, some constitutional lawyers have hailed the judgment describing it as a victory for democracy and human rights.
In a statement by its leader Barr Obe AG, the lawyers urged the federal government to respect the rule of law by complying with the court ruling.
Similarly, the socio-cultural group Ohanaeze Youths has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to show his truth by directing the Department of State Services, DSS, to release Emefiele.
The socio-cultural Group in a statement by its Coordinator for Judicial Affairs, Nze Uzo Kalu, said if DSS disobeys this court order and continues to detain Emefiele illegally, then it’s clear the DSS wants to dent Tinubu’s Rule of Law record.
The group recalled that President Tinubu, in his inaugural address, promised to govern according to the Nigerian constitution and the rule of law.
The group noted that Tinubu promised that respect for the constitution and the rule of law would underpin his economic programmes.
Warning against denting the president’s record, the group urged DSS to comply with the court order and release Emefiele immediately, adding that the president should let their son come home.
Meanwhile, there’s a massive celebration in Emefieles home town as news of the Abuja court for his release hit Delta State.
One of the indigenes, Ogidi Emmanuel J, who reacted to the court ruling, described it as a welcomed development, saying that the illegal detention of the suspended CBN governor without proof of the crime he committed is unfair and against the rule of law.
He lamented that the DSS operatives are becoming more brazen and tyrannical in their behaviors, adding that Emefieles’ crime was initiating several good policies that have been beneficial to Nigerians.