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Nigeria: Again, Court Orders EFCC to Release or Produce Emefiele

The court issued the order on Friday after hearing an ex parte motion, which Mr Emefile filed as part of his broader fundamental rights enforcement suit.

The FCT High Court in Abuja has again ordered the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to either produce or release the embattled former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, on 8 November.

The judge, Olukayode Adeniyi, issued the order on Friday after hearing an ex parte motion, which Mr Emefile filed as part of his broader fundamental rights enforcement suit.

EFCC failed to obey the order at the resumed sitting on Monday, as the agency’s counsel, Farouk Abdullahai, told the court that the order issued by the court was not understood.

He added that the applicant could not attach some documents to its affidavit.

Mr Emefiele ‘s counsel, Matthew Burkaa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had earlier told the court that his client had been in detention for 149 days.

But Mr Abdullahi, the counsel for EFCC, said the applicant had only been in EFCC custody for seven days.

After listening to their submissions, Mr Adeniyi reiterated his earlier order for the release of the applicant or that the EFCC produced him on bail on Wednesday.

He further directed the applicant’s counsel to attach the documents omitted supporting their affidavit and serve parties.

He then adjourned the matter until Wednesday.

Mr Emefiele, through his legal team, sued the federal government, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the EFCC and its chairperson, Ola Olukoyede, as respondents in the suit.

Background

Mr Emefiele was first detained by the State Security Service (SSS) on 10 June, the day after he was removed as CBN governor, and later transferred to EFCC in late October.

For the over four months that he was in SSS custody before his transfer to EFCC, the secret police did not disclose the offences it was investigating him for.

But in July, the agency arraigned him on two counts of “illegal possession” of firearms and live ammunition at the Federal High Court, Lagos.

After arraigning him on the two charges on 25 July, the SSS, in August, withdrew the charges.

Based on SSS investigations, the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, again, charged the former central bank chief with N6.9 billion in corruption charges at the FCT High Court in Abuja in August.

But the arraignment was rescheduled on different occasions, a development that triggered speculations that Mr Emefiele was in plea bargain talks with the government over the charges filed against him.

Earlier this month, the AGF, Lateef Fagbemi, denied signing any plea agreement with Mr Emefiele, which tallied with an earlier exclusive disclosure by an official of the Federal Ministry of Justice to PREMIUM TIMES that such plea agreement was not yet on the table.

But the case has not come up in court since the failed arraignment on 23 August.

However, some said the delay in the commencement of Mr Emefiele’s trial may be due to the multi-dimensional corruption cases he is involved in.

So far, there has not been any official disclosure of the allegations against him, apart from the charges pending at the FCT High Court.

In the case, Mr Emefiele was charged alongside Sa’adatu Ramallan-Yaro, a CBN staff member, and her company, April 1616 Investment Limited.

Mr Emefiele and Mrs Ramalan-Yaro were accused of conspiracy and procurement fraud involving as much as N6.9 billion.

The charges alleged that Mr Emefiele conferred corrupt advantages on Ms Ramalan-Yaro, using her firm, April 1616 Investment Limited, to execute several procurement contracts spanning years.

The government alleged that the defendants committed the offences by awarding contracts to Mrs Ramalan-Yaro’s company for the supply of cars.

The defendants, allegedly through the corrupt transactions, purchased a fleet of about 100 posh vehicles and armoured buses worth about N6.9 billion.

The alleged corrupt transactions took place between 2018 and 2020, according to the charges.

(NAN)

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