A civil society group, Nigerian Patriotic Forum (NPF), has warned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over its continued detention of the embattled former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, following a fresh court order for his release.
Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja recently granted Emefiele bail, after he had been in custody since June 6, 2023.
Emefiele’s ordeal began on June 10 when he was removed from office by President Bola Tinubu.
The Department of State Services (DSS) took him into custody and defied a subsequent court order for his release. Following his eventual release by the DSS on October 26, the EFCC immediately took him into custody.
To secure his freedom, Emefiele filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the EFCC Chairman, and the EFCC.
In the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/040/2023, he sought a declaration that his prolonged detention without trial was illegal. Justice Adeniyi, upon an ex parte motion, ordered the EFCC to release Emefiele unconditionally or produce him in court on November 6.
However, the NPF said there were indications that the EFCC has allegedly received authorization from President Tinubu to disregard the court order granting bail to Emefiele.
The group’s President, Samuel Lawson Ajibade, stated, “If these reports are indeed accurate, they raise serious concerns about the state of Nigeria’s democracy and the potential erosion of key democratic principles. Our nation has made significant progress in upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of its citizens. However, any actions that undermine the independence of the judiciary and disregard court orders pose a direct threat to our democracy.”
Ajibade emphasized the vital role of the judiciary as the protector of the rights of every Nigerian, regardless of their social status or influence.
He stressed that the court order granting bail to Emefiele was issued after careful consideration of the evidence provided and must be respected.
“The NPF emphasizes the importance of upholding the principles of justice, fairness, and the rule of law in our society. We call upon all relevant stakeholders, including the government, judiciary, and law enforcement agencies, to ensure that justice is served, and the sanctity of the judicial process is upheld,” Ajibade added.
The NPF further called on the international community and business communities to pay attention to what is happening to Emefiele and help to prevent the slide of Nigeria to anarchy.Ajibade also admonished the EFCC Chairman to tread with caution and take stock of the fate that befell other Chairmen of the commission who occupied the office before him, reminding him that power is transient.