A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has once again stopped the Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, from arresting and detaining the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, over alleged terrorism financing and economic crimes.
Justice A.H. Hassan gave the order in a judgement delivered on December 19, 2022, which was made available on Thursday. The judge also restrained the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN); Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the CBN from taking any action against Emefiele.
The orders followed an application by a civil society organisation, the Incorporated Trustees of Forum for Accountability and Good Leadership, in a suit. The exparte application was moved by counsel to the applicant, Emeka Ozoani (SAN).
Delivering judgement on the originating motion to enforce the fundamental rights of Emefiele, Justice Hassan also restrained DSS from further harassing, humiliating, embarrassing, threatening to incarcerate or detain Emefiele.
The judge further restrained the “DSS and any person acting through them from inviting, arresting and/or detaining the CBN Governor in the guise of having committed any offence with respect to allegations of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities etc or in any other manner whatsoever interfering with his rights to freedom of movement, personal liberty, human dignity or interfering with the tenure, functions and discharge of his duties as the Governor of the CBN, except by an order of a superior court.”
The court, relying on the orders of the Federal High Court delivered by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice J. T. Tsoho, chided the DSS and declared that “any continuous harassment, intimidation, threat, restriction of free movement, abuse of right of office, surreptitious moves to arrest and humiliation of Mr. Godwin Emefiele over the trumped up allegations of terrorism financing and fraudulent practices etc by the Service and their officers as vindictive, unwarranted, abrasive, oppressive and a flagrant breach of his rights to personal liberty, dignity of the human person, right to policy making powers, freedom of thought, conscience and religion and movement as respectively provided and enshrined under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforce- ment) Act and therefore unconstitutional and illegal.”
The judge further held that the DSS acted wrongfully and illegally in instigating the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against Emefiele in respect of the exercise of his statutory duty relating, to the issuance of monetary policies and directives in the interest of national security and the economy.
The DSS had earlier in an exparte application sought an order to arrest the CBN governor over alleged acts of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities and economic crimes of national security dimension.
But the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, rejected the application on the grounds that the DSS failed to provide sufficient evidence to warrant the issuance of an arrest warrant against the CBN governor.