The Federal Government has applied to withdraw the “illegal possession of firearms” case it filed against the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at the Federal Ministry of Justice Mohammed Bakodo Abubakar told Justice Nicholas Oweibo that the application followed the result of further investigations.
The judge had fixed today, August 15, 2023, for the hearing of applications seeking to stop further prosecution of Emefiele, and that of the Ministry of Justice seeking to appeal the bail granted to him by the court.
Abubakar who made his application orally told the judge that the decision to withdraw the charges is informed by emerging facts and circumstances of the case which requires closer investigation.
But defence counsel Joseph Daudu (SAN) opposed him, arguing that because the government was in disobedience of the court’s order granting Emefiele bail, its application could not be taken.
The Senior Silk said such an application under section 174(1) and (3) of the Nigerian constitution cannot be made orally, but in a formal application which must establish the need for public interest, the interest of justice, and the need to prevent abuse of legal process.
He added that the prosecution shouldn’t be granted any favors as it is still in disobedience of the court order granting the defendant bail and for him to be transferred from the custody of the Department of state security to a correctional facility.
Replying on points of law, the DPP said his application is brought under section 108 of the Administration of criminal justice act of 2015, which grants a prosecutor powers to withdraw charges against the defendant at any stage, and that it doesn’t have to be in writing.
The judge subsequently adjourned till Thursday, Aug 17 to give a ruling on the matter, adding that this latest development is a “surprise “to the court.
Emefiele was admitted to an N20 million bail on a two-count charge of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and ordered his remand at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, pending the fulfillment of his bail conditions.
But the DSS rearrested the embattled bank chief after fighting off NCoS officials on the court’s premises.
Speaking with journalists after the proceedings, Mr. Abubakar said there was a pending 20-count charge against Mr. Emefiele at the FCT high court, which involves allegedly conferring unlawful advantages bordering on procurement under the ICPC Act.
On the refusal of the DSS to release Mr Emefiele as ordered by the judge, the DPP said, there were administrative protocols to be followed by the DSS before its transfer of a detainee to another agency, which delayed its obedience to the court order.