On Monday in Abuja, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) declined to produce former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, in spite of a release order issued on November 2. This failure to comply with the court order was attributed to a purported confusion regarding the interpretation of the order.
Justice Olukayode Adegbola Adeniyi, taken aback by the EFCC’s actions, dismissed the claims of confusion and reiterated his order that Emefiele should either be released on bail or presented in court on Wednesday, November 8, for the purpose of admitting him to bail. The judge cautioned that any disregard for the order would face strict enforcement.
During the hearing of his fundamental rights enforcement suit, Emefiele, represented by his counsel, Matthew Burkaa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), expressed strong dissatisfaction with the EFCC’s non-compliance with the clear and lawful order issued since November 2. He pointed out that his client had spent 149 days in the custody of federal government agencies since his initial arrest by the operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
When asked to explain why the court order was not followed, the EFCC lawyer, Farouk Abdalla, acknowledged that his client had been served with the release order. However, he suggested that the order couldn’t be executed due to some ‘slight confusion’ observed in the order.
Justice Adeniyi, unimpressed with the EFCC lawyer’s explanation, instructed him to read in open court Order 4 Rule 3, which guides the enforcement of fundamental human rights suits. The judge maintained that his order was unambiguous and free from any conditions for the anti-graft agency to disregard.
At this point, Abdalla apologized for the non-compliance with the order, stating that the EFCC, as a government agency established by law, would not take a court order lightly. He assured the court that his client would abide by the order, as they had no choice but to obey all lawful court orders.
Although the EFCC requested that their motion on notice be heard, Justice Adeniyi ordered that the existing order must be obeyed first. He granted the anti-graft agency until November 8 to unfailingly produce Emefiele in court for the purpose of admitting him to bail.
Oyin Koleoso, representing the Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), noted that some crucial documents mentioned in Emefiele’s affidavit were not included in the materials served to his clients. The court ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer to rectify these discrepancies before the adjourned date.