A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Joseph Daudu, says the case of the suspended and detained Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, will serve as test of President Bola Tinubu’s respect for the rule of law.
Daudu, who is counsel for Emefiele, stated this on Thursday, shortly after the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja gave the Department of State Services a seven-day ultimatum to either release Emefiele, who has been in detention since June 10, or arraign him in court if they have a case against him.
Justice Hamza Muazu gave the order while ruling on a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by Emefiele, through Daudu, to challenge his arrest and continued detention by the DSS.
Justice Muazu held that though the DSS has constitutional power to arrest, detain and prevent internal crime, the power must be exercised within the ambit of the law.
Consequently, the judge held that the continued detention of Emefiele by the secret police without trial amounted to a gross violation of his fundamental human rights.
“Detention, no matter how small, can amount to a breach of fundamental rights,” the judge said.
He said since the allegations against Emefiele were bailable offences, the DSS ought to have granted him administrative bail, pending his prosecution.
However, the court dismissed Daudu’s argument that Emefiele’s detention was illegal, noting that the detention was backed by a lawful order of a magistrate’s court.
The judge said there was evidence before the court that there was an order from an Abuja Chief Magistrates’ Court that granting permission to the DSS to detain Emefiele for 14 days to enable it to conclude its investigations.
Justice Muazu said, “Though I am in sympathy with the applicant, 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 the applicant should be released on administrative bail.