An interesting ‘tug of war’ appears to be playing out in a Federal High Court premises in Lagos this Tuesday as the Department of State Services (DSS) and National Correctional Service have primed their vehicles preparatory to whisking off suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the court premises.
There are fears the DSS may be planning to rearrest him despite a court order that he be allowed out on bail after perfecting his bail process. The judge had ordered that he be kept in Ikoyi Correctional Centre until his bail is worked out.
65 days after he was deprived of his freedom, Emefiele was granted bail for N20 million and a surety in like sum.
He remains on bail until November 24, 2023, when his trial resumes.
Despite the stiff opposition by the Federal Government, through its counsel, Nkiru Jones-Nebo, the judge was not convinced.
In an oral submission, the government opposed the bail application, saying that the prosecution had not been given time to respond in line with the provisions of fair hearing enshrined in the Constitution.
She added that the prosecution had information that the defendant’s refusal to hand in his passport suggested his capacity to evade and abscond from his trial.
She argued, “As the Governor of the CBN, he is a powerful man, and can intimidate the witnesses. Granting him bail will intimidate the prosecution witnesses who have come forward to give evidence.
“He can evade trial based on his antecedents. We urge the court to dismiss the bail application.”
The trial judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, agreed with the submission of counsel to the banker, Joseph Daudu, SAN, who argued against the Federal Government position that the banker is a flight risk.
Justice Oweibo held that the federal government failed to provide any fact to support its claim.
The judge ordered that Emefiele be held at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, pending the perfection of his bail.
Emefiele pleaded not guilty to the two counts of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition filed against him by the Federal Government.
Daudu, prayed the court to grant the 61 years old and frail-looking banker bail on self-recognisance or on other liberal terms, pending the hearing and determination of the case.
Daudu said; “There is no counter affidavit by the Federal Government opposing bail. Also, the defendant is a renowned banker and can only stay at his house, he can’t travel anywhere”.