The Federal High Court in Abuja has thrown out a request by the State Security Services (SSS) to order the arrest of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.
The secret police had filed an ex parte application for an order for the arrest of the CBN governor over alleged “acts of financing terrorism, fraudulent activities and economic crimes of national security dimension.”
The SSS filed the application marked FHC/ABJ/CS/2255/2022 at the court on 7 December, suing Mr Emefiele as the sole respondent in the ex parte application.
But the judge, John Tsoho, who is the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, in a ruling on 9 December, rejected the application on the grounds that the secret police failed to provide sufficient evidence to warrant the issuance of an arrest warrant against Mr Emefiele.
The judge said the depositions in the affidavit filed by the SSS in support of its application “purport that preliminary investigation has revealed various acts of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities perpetrated by the respondent and his involvement in economic crimes of national security dimension.”
But rejecting the application, the judge said: “These are no doubt grave allegations, but which the applicant has not presented any concrete evidence to support.”
He also said the SSS failed to clearly identify the person against whom the arrest warrant was sought. He said it remained speculation whether the person was the same Godwin Emefiele serving as the CBN governor.
If the targeted person was the incumbent CBN governor, the judge said there was the need to obtain the approval of his boss, presumably referring to President Muhammadu Buhari, for his arrest given the crucial roles he plays in driving the economy.
He said there was no evidence in SSS’ application that such approval was obtained.
“The respondent in this application is named as ‘Godwin Emefiele’ without disclosure of his status or position anywhere; not even in the affidavit.
“It is left to speculation if the ‘Godwin Emefiele’ is the same person as the serving Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. If it is, then he is unarguably a high-ranking public official in Nigeria and indeed occupies a sensitive position as one of the key drivers of the nation’s economy.
“Therefore, an application of this kind should have evidence of the approval of the respondent’s boss, that such measures are authorised to be taken.”
With or without a court order, the judge said SSS had the power to arrest Mr Emefiele based on reasonable suspicion, but that the agency’s lack of concrete evidence must have driven it to seek the court’s arrest warrant to serve as a cover for an irregular procedure.
“It therefore seems that the applicant intends to use the court as a cover for an irregular procedure, which is unacceptable.
“In the light of the foregoing reasons, I decline to grant this application ex-parte,” Mr Tsoho said.
But giving the secret service another option to pursue its case, the judge added: “If however, the applicant desires to still pursue this application, then it should place the respondent on notice considering the sensitive public office that he occupies.”Follow us on social media