A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Garki has issued an order restraining the State Security Service (SSS) and its agents from taking steps to arrest, detain or restrict the movement of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) governor, Godwin Emefiele, over allegations linking him with terrorism financing and fraudulent activities.
Justice M. A. Hassan issued the order yesterday while ruling on a suit filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Forum for Accountability and Good Leadership (ITFAGL).
According to a copy of the enrolled orders sighted in Abuja last night, Justice Hassan held that the SSS “acted wrongfully and illegally in instigating the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against Mr. Godwin Emefile in respect of the exercise of his statutory duty relating to the issuance of monetary policies and directives in the interest of the National Security and economy”.
The judge averred that in view of the ruling of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, delivered on December 15, 2022 in a case brought by the SSS against Emefiele, “any continuous harassment, intimidation, threats, restriction, and free movement, abuse of right of office, surreptitious moves to arrest, and humiliation of Mr. Godwin Emefiele over trumped-up allegations of terrorism financing and fraudulent practices, among others, by the fourth respondents (SSS) and its offices is vindictive, unwarranted, abrasive, oppressive, and same constitute a flagrant breach of his rights to personal liberty, dignity and human person and illegal and unconstitutional”.
The judge ordered that the SSS, its agents and officers be “restrained from instigating the arrest or arresting, interrogating and detaining Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank governor, in respect of any matter or policy decision on the economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or for any connected purposes except by an order of a superior court”.
Justice Hassan also declared that any form of invitation to Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the CBN, in the exercise of his statutory powers, functions and duties and continuous threats by the fourth respondent to surrender his powers to them over trumped-up allegations of terrorism financing and fraudulent practices, among others, constitute a flagrant breach of his rights to personal liberty, dignity of human person, right to policy making powers, freedom of thought, conscience and religion and movement as respectively provided and enshrined under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act and, therefore, unconstitutional and illegal.
The judge further held that the SSS, “whether by themselves, their officers, agents, servants, privies or acting through any person or persons howsoever are hereby restrained from further harassing, humiliating, embarrassing, threatening to incarcerate or detain Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the CBN, over trumped-up allegations of terrorism financing and fraudulent practices, among others, as well as threats against the peaceable execution of his statutory powers”.
Justice Hassan added: “The fourth respondent, whether by themselves, their officers, agents, servants, privies or acting through any person or persons howsoever, are hereby restrained from inviting, arresting and/or detaining the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in the guise of having committed any offence, with respect to allegations of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities, etc, or in any other manner whatsoever interfering with his right to freedom of movement, personal liberty, human dignity or interfering with the tenure, functions and discharge of his duties as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria except by an order of superior court.”
Justice Hassan, who held that the other four defendants in the suit were nominal parties, declined to award cost to any of them.
Listed with the SSS as defendants in the case are: the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Inspector General of Police (IGP), and the CBN.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, had, in a ruling on December 15, declined to grant the request of the SSS for an order to arrest, detain and interrogate Emefiele over alleged terrorism financing.
He also rejected the service’s request on the grounds that it, among others, failed to provide evidence to substantiate its allegations against the CBN governor.