The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed August 15, 2023, for the hearing of applications seeking to stop further prosecution of the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, and that of the Ministry of Justice seeking to appeal the bail granted to him by the court.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo gave the adjournment to enable the defence to reply to the prosecution’s further counter affidavit which was served on the defence in court just before the proceedings began.
Ruling on whether the applications are ripe for hearing, the judge held that, the application of the prosecution had been concluded and was ripe for hearing but that since the defence has not responded to the further counter affidavit served on them in court, it will be best for the applications to be taken jointly in one day.
Earlier when the case was called the prosecution counsel Mrs. Kemi Fagbemi, who is the assistant chief state counsel told the court that they filed a Motion on Notice dated and filed August 3, 2023, and that they had served the defendant/ respondent and the defence had equally responded.
In his response, the defense counsel, Victor Opara SAN, submitted that the prosecution’s application was not ripe for hearing.
He stated that the complainant served them the application on Friday, August 4, 2023, in the afternoon, and by Monday they replied with their counter and served the complainant on Tuesday in Abuja.
Opara said that the defence counter affidavit was challenging the complainant’s application
He said,” Our conception is that because of the principle of priority of application, this our application is superior and it is stated in grounds 6 and 7 of our application that by disobedience of clear and direct potent orders of this court.
“The application by consistency disobedience of this court, they should not even be allowed to move the applications haven disobeyed the court.”
Mrs Fagbemi in her counter reply stated that the defence does not have a right of reply adding that by the principle of priority, the prosecution’s Motion comes first and was ripe for hearing.
She further urged the court to hear their application.
However, Opara asked the court to give them time to reply to the application.
After listening to the argument of both counsels Justice Oweibo, held that the justice of the case will be met if both applications are taken on the same day.
Emefiele in a Motion on Notice dated August 7, 2023, is asking for an order prohibiting the complainant from further prosecuting the instant charge or any other charge against him or seeking any form of indulgence before the court, inclusive of the application to grant leave to appeal against the order granting the appellant bail and other ancillary orders.
An order discharging the defendant/appellant from the instant charge which can not be lawfully prosecuted by the complainant who is in brazen disobedience of subsisting orders of the court made on July 25, 2023.
Emefiele further asked the court for an order to stay further proceedings in the present charge until he exhausts all the remedies available to him in law to compel the government to obey the order of the court admitting him to bail or remanding him in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Centre until he perfects his bail terms.
The defendant through his lawyers led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Joseph Daudu, applied to the vacation judge, Justice Oweibo who had admitted him to bail after he was arraigned.
The application was filed under Section 6(6)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), relevant sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, and under the inherent powers of the court.
Emefiele further sought the orders on the ground that until set aside, an order of court remains valid for all intents and purposes.
“That the complainant having brazenly defied the orders of court made on July 25, is in contempt of the proceedings of the court.
“ Until the complainant complies with the afore-described subsisting orders of the court, it can not continue to lawfully prosecute the charge neither can it be afforded any right of audience in any court in Nigeria. “
He also sought to invoke the jurisdiction of the court to enforce its orders so as not to be seen as a toothless bulldog or paper tiger.
The applicant further stated that the processes seek to preserve and protect the efficacy, majesty, and integrity of the court as well as the rule of law in our democracy.
The government in its Motion of Notice is seeking inter alia leave to appeal against the ruling of bail on the ground of mixed law and facts and a stay of the order placing him in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services.
Emefiele in a counter affidavit in opposition to the Motion on Notice, deposed to by a lawyer Adeogun Samuel in the chambers of a member of the defendant’s legal team Victor Opara SAN, stated that paragraphs 3g to 3q and paragraphs 4,5, and 6 of the affidavit in support of the Complainant/ Applicant’s application are either false or untrue and are hereby denied.
He stated that contrary to the depositions in the affidavit in support of the Complainant/ Applicant’s application, the Complainant/ Applicant was served with the summons for bail, filed by counsel on behalf of the defendant/ Respondent.
The deponent also stated that the complainant’s counsel, Federal Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Nkiru Jones-Nebo had admitted on record before the court on July 25, 2023, that although the office of the Attorney General was served there was no occupant of the AG’s office hence they did not see the application.
“That the court rejected the excuse given by the complainant for not filing their counter affidavit in a considered ruling the court directed the applicant to move its application (Summons for bail).
“That the complainant’s Applicant’s application dated August 3, 2023, is grossly incompetent and does not vest this court with jurisdiction to determine same.
“That under the incompetence of the application an ‘unless you comply with the orders of the court application you can no longer be heard’ has been filed and ought to take precedence to this application for leave to appeal and other ancillary prayers.
“ That is the alternative the defendant states in opposition to the complainant’s afore-described application as follows:” That there is no pending Appeal before this honorable court because the Notices of Appeal annexed to the application has not been filed.”
Emefiele was arraigned on July 25, 2023, before the court on two counts bordering on illegal possession of firearms.
The FG said it found Emefiele in possession of a single-barrel shotgun and 123 rounds of live ammunition without licences.
But the defendant pleaded not guilty and was granted N20m bail with one surety in like sum.
On August 1, 2023, Justice Nicholas Oweibo granted Emefiele leave to serve the Director General, Department of State Services, Mr. Yusuf Bichi, through substituted service the order of the court admitting him to bail and directing his remand in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service.