On Thursday, an Abuja High Court sitting in Maitama ordered the Department of State Services, DSS, to either release suspended Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor Mr. Godwin Emefiele from jail or charge him with a crime within seven days.
Emefiele’s continuing arrest without charge constituted a grave breach of his fundamental human rights, the court ruled in a decision written by Justice Hamza Muazu.
According to Justice Muazu, the foundation of the Nigerian Constitution is the rule of law, which presumes that everything must be carried out in accordance with the law.
The court ruled that as the allegations against the tumultuous suspended CBN Governor contained bailable offenses, “detention, no matter how small can amount to a breach of fundamental rights,”
The court, said that there was evidence before it to show that there was an order from an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court that permitted the security agency to detain Emefiele for a period of 14 days to enable it to conclude its investigations.
It held that Emefiele did not establish that his arrest, detention and investigation was unlawful since it was based on a valid court order.
Describing the DSS as a reputable institution mandated to guarantee internal security of the country, Justice Muazu, said it must conduct its operations with strict adherence to provisions of the Constitution.
“Though I am in sympathy with the Applicant (Emefiele), but my sentiment will not go far to deliver judgement by granting all the reliefs sought by the Applicant.
“The Applicant has not shown that his arrest, detention and investigation were unlawful.
“However, I am concerned that the application is not without merit. The Applicant is entitled to fair hearing.
“At this point, the continued detention of the Applicant cannot be justified in the absence of any charge against him.
“At the very least, justice demands that Applicant should be released on administrative bail.
“Consequently, I hereby male an order, directing the Respondents to within one week, charge the Applicant to court or release him on administrative bail,” the court held.
The judgement followed a fundamental rights enforcement suit that Emefiele filed through his team of lawyers led by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN.