The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has granted bail to the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum. The decision came after Justice Nicholas Oweibo listened to the submissions presented by Emefiele’s counsel, Joseph Daudu (SAN).
The judge dismissed the Federal Government’s claim that Emefiele was a flight risk, ruling that the government failed to provide any concrete evidence to support such allegations. Emefiele, aged 61, had earlier pleaded “not guilty” to the two-count charge of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition filed against him by the Federal Government.
In his plea for bail, Daudu urged the court to grant Emefiele bail on self-recognizance or on other liberal terms, pending the hearing and determination of the trial. He pointed out that there was no counter affidavit from the Federal Government opposing bail. Furthermore, he highlighted that Emefiele, being a renowned banker, was not a flight risk and could be restricted to his residence during the trial.
However, the counsel to the Federal Government, Nkiru Jones-Nebo, orally opposed the bail application, arguing that the prosecution had not been given adequate time to respond, as required by the provisions of fair hearing enshrined in the constitution. She also expressed concerns that the defendant’s refusal to surrender his passport suggested a likelihood of evading trial.
Jones-Nebo further asserted that Emefiele’s position as the Governor of the CBN granted him significant power and influence, potentially intimidating prosecution witnesses who had come forward to give evidence. She urged the court to dismiss the bail application to safeguard the integrity of the trial.
Despite the Federal Government’s opposition, the court ruled in favor of granting bail to Godwin Emefiele. The judge also ordered that Emefiele be held at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre until the conditions of his bail are fulfilled.
The trial of the suspended CBN Governor has been scheduled for November 14. It is important to note that President Bola Tinubu suspended Emefiele from his role as the apex bank chief on June 9, 2023. Subsequently, the Department of State Services (DSS) confirmed that Emefiele was in their custody. Following a court order on July 13, 2023, the DSS charged Emefiele to court in compliance with the directive.
As the legal proceedings unfold, the nation’s eyes remain on this high-profile case involving a prominent figure in the banking sector. The outcome of the trial will undoubtedly have significant implications for both the individual and the financial landscape of Nigeria.