The Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned further hearings in the applications filed by the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, seeking to prevent the Federal Government from remanding or prosecuting him on the charge of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, or any other charge for that matter, until Tuesday, August 15th.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo determined that the motion, which addressed the court’s jurisdiction, was a priority and would be heard alongside another plea filed by the government requesting leave to appeal the ruling granting bail to the suspended CBN governor.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria Victor Opara, counsel to the suspended CBN Governor, told the court that the case was “germane and superior by reason of the DSS’s persistent, relentless disobedience to a clear, direct, and potent order of the court on his client’s bail application.”
He informed the judge that he had only been supplied with the prosecution’s response to the move to stay the trial of the suspended CBN Governor this morning. He also requested a brief adjournment to allow him to respond to the prosecution’s response on legal concerns.
But, KA Fagbemi, counsel to the FG and assistant chief state counsel, disagreed. She informed the court that the prosecution had initially filed a motion for leave to appeal and a stay of the court’s proceedings awaiting appeal.
She requested the court consider the FG’s application and adjourn Emefiele’s.
“On the principle of first in time, our motion comes first, and it is ripe for hearing. It is trite that any application that seeks to bring life to a case and another that seeks death, that which seeks life, should be taken first.”
“We urge the court to hear our application today. We are not opposed to an adjournment for them to respond to our reply to their own application”, she said.
After listening to both parties, Justice Oweibo said in his ruling, “The business of the court today is the hearing of the motion of the prosecution. Filing is concluded, and it is ripe for hearing. The court’s attention has, however, been drawn to the defendant’s motion.
Given the importance of the move, which challenges both the prosecution and the court’s jurisdiction, I will enable the defence to answer so that both motions can be heard simultaneously.”
The court then scheduled a hearing on both applications for August 15th.
On August 8, the suspended CBN governor filed a motion with the Federal High Court in Lagos to prevent the Federal Government from pursuing him further on the accusation of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, or any other offence.
He’s also asking the court to release him from all charges brought by the government because he’s in “brazen disobedience” of the court’s existing orders giving him bail on July 25, 2023. And a further order preventing the FG from receiving any more indulgence from the courts unless and until it complies with the bail judgement.
Emefiele filed the motion before Vacation Judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, who admitted him to bail after his arraignment, through his counsel led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Joseph Daudu.
The application was submitted in accordance with Section 6(6)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), relevant portions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, and the court’s inherent authorities.
Emefiele asked Justice Oweibo to stay further proceedings in the current charge until he exhausts all legal remedies to compel the government and the DSS to obey the court’s order admitting him to bail or remanding him in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Centre until he completes his bail terms.
The application seeks to invoke the court’s jurisdiction to enforce its decisions in order to avoid being portrayed as a toothless bulldog or paper tiger.
According to the petitioner, the process aims to safeguard and protect the court’s efficacy, majesty, and integrity, as well as the rule of law in our democracy.
Prior to Emefiele’s motion, the Federal Government filed an application with the same court on August 3rd, asking for leave to appeal the ruling granting bail to the suspended CBN governor.
The FG has also asked the court to stay the execution of the order to remand Emefiele in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Services and an order remanding him instead in the custody of the DSS, according to an application filed by the Federation’s deputy director of public prosecutions, Nkiru Jones-Nebo.
The application was set to be heard on Thursday, August 10, before Justice Oweibo.