Lack of Diligent Prosecution Leads to Dismissal of Charges Against CBN Governor
Rule of Law Concerns Arise as Firearm Charges Against CBN Governor Withdrawn
In a startling development at the Federal High Court in Lagos, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, presiding over the case involving the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, expressed concern over the Federal Government’s lack of adherence to the rule of law and its disregard for court proceedings.
Justice Oweibo made these remarks while dismissing the firearm possession charges against Mr. Emefiele, which were initially brought against him by the Department of State Services (DSS).
The court’s decision to strike out the charges was rooted in the failure of diligent prosecution by the government, with Justice Oweibo noting that the government’s behavior indicated a lack of respect for the court’s authority and a tendency to flout the rule of law.
This ruling follows the scheduled arraignment of Emefiele on a new 20-count charge, which was slated for yesterday. However, the proceedings were stalled due to the absence of one of the defendants in the case, Saadat Yaro.
Despite the presence of Emefiele, who was brought to court by the DSS from their custody in Abuja, the absence of Yaro led to the postponement of the proceedings. The Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mohammed Abubakar, representing the Federal Government, informed the court that Yaro was unable to attend due to illness.
As a result, Justice Hamza Muazu, presiding over the Abuja High Court, granted the prosecution’s request for a new date and adjourned the case until August 23.
The legal proceedings have attracted intense scrutiny, particularly in light of the firearm possession charges that have now been dropped. The Director of Public Prosecution, Mohammed Abubakar, submitted an application to withdraw the charges against Emefiele, citing emerging facts and the need for further investigations.
Emefiele’s counsel, Joseph Daudu, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), countered the withdrawal application by arguing that the government’s disobedience of the court’s bail order raised doubts about the legitimacy of the withdrawal request. He emphasized that Section 174 (3) of the Constitution grants power to the Attorney General of the Federation, and by extension, its officers, to withdraw charges.
Justice Oweibo acknowledged the Director of Public Prosecution’s authority to withdraw the charges under Section 108 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, and determined that no written application was required for the withdrawal. He decided to grant the withdrawal, stating that the defense would not benefit if the case were to be continued in the absence of diligent prosecution.
Justice Oweibo expressed his view that the government’s actions indicated a disregard for the rule of law, but concluded that the proper course of action was to permit the withdrawal of the charges. This decision led to the charges being struck out.
Immediately following the adjournment, personnel from the Department of State Services (DSS) escorted Mr. Emefiele away from the court premises.
As the legal proceedings continue to unfold, they shed light on the complexities of justice, the relationship between the government and the judiciary, and the importance of upholding the rule of law in Nigeria.