An Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, on Thursday, ordered the Department of State Services(DSS) to release the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), Godwin Emefiele, within seven days or charge him to court.
The judgment was delivered by Justice Hamza Muazu, holding that Emefiele’s continued detention without trial amounted to a gross violation of his fundamental human rights.
Justice Muazu held that the Nigerian Constitution was founded on the rule of law which he said pre-supposed that everything must be done according to the law.
“Detention, no matter how small, can amount to a breach of fundamental rights,” the court held, adding that since allegations against the embattled suspended CBN Governor contained bailable offenses, the DSS ought to grant him administrative bail, pending his prosecution.
Nevertheless, the court said that there was evidence before it to show that there was an order from an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court that permitted the security agency to detain Emefiele for 14 days to enable it to conclude its investigations.
It held that Emefiele did not establish that his arrest, detention, and investigation were unlawful since it was based on a valid court order.
Describing the DSS as a reputable institution mandated to guarantee the internal security of the country, Justice Muazu, said it must conduct its operations with strict adherence to the provisions of the Constitution.
“Though I am in sympathy with the Applicant (Emefiele), my sentiment will not go far to deliver judgment by granting all the reliefs sought by the Applicant.
“The Applicant has not shown that his arrest, detention, and investigation were unlawful.
“However, I am concerned that the application is not without merit. The Applicant is entitled to a fair hearing.
“At this point, the continued detention of the Applicant cannot be justified in the absence of any charge against him.
“At the very least, justice demands that Applicants should be released on administrative bail.
“Consequently, I hereby male an order, directing the Respondents to within one week, charge the Applicant to court or release him on administrative bail,” the court held.
The judgment followed a fundamental rights enforcement suit that Emefiele filed through his team of lawyers led by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA), Mr. Joseph Daudu(SAN).
Emefiele, who has been in detention since June 9th, had in his suit marked: FCT/HC/CV/6450/23, accused the DSS of violating his constitutional rights to liberty, freedom of movement, and fair hearing.