The Federal High Court in Lagos has struck out the charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition filed against the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, by the Federal Government. Justice Nicholas Oweibo made the order on Thursday, August 17, 2023, following an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Abubakar, to withdraw the two-count charge.
Abubakar had told the court that the application was based on new facts and circumstances that required further investigation. He had relied on Section 108 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, to seek the withdrawal of the charge. However, Emefiele’s counsel, Joseph Daudu (SAN), had opposed the application, arguing that the government was in contempt of the court’s order granting Emefiele N20 million bail on July 25. He had also insisted that the application for withdrawal of charges must be in writing.
Justice Oweibo, while granting the government’s application, condemned its conduct for showing disrespect to the rule of law. He said: “The conduct of the prosecution has shown that it doesn’t respect the rule of law. Of what benefit will it be to keep the file in the court’s docket when the prosecution has shown disrespect to the court? Accordingly this charge is hereby struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.”
Emefiele has been in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) since June 10, 2023, following his suspension by President Bola Tinubu on June 9, 2023. He was arraigned on July 25 on a two-count charge of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, which he pleaded not guilty to. The court had granted him N20 million bail and ordered his remand at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, pending the fulfilment of his bail conditions. However, he was re-arrested by the SSS after a scuffle with correctional officers on the court premises.
The government had also filed a 20-count charge against Emefiele in Abuja, accusing him of fraud, corruption, and abuse of office. The case is yet to be assigned to a judge.