Nigerian judge orders release of ex-central bank governor Emefiele

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) – A Nigerian court on Friday ordered that former central bank governor Godwin Emefiele should be freed unconditionally from detention or be taken to court for a hearing scheduled for Monday.

Emefiele, who has been in detention since June 10, is charged with procurement fraud. His trial has stalled since Aug. 23 after the Department of State Services failed to present him in court to enter a plea, despite being granted bail by another judge. He has made no public comment since facing those charges.

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi ruled in the hearing in Abuja that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Attorney General of the Federation had failed to justify Emefiele’s detention in violation of his rights.

“The respondents are hereby ordered to unconditionally release the applicant from detention forthwith or, in the alternative, produce him in court on a date fixed for hearing,” Adeniyi said.

On July 25, Emefiele was re-arrested by DSS officers on court premises after a federal judge had just granted him bail on firearms charges that were previously levelled against him and which he denied.

A fresh 20-count indictment of unlawful procurement was subsequently filed against him on Aug. 15 but he has not been able to appear in court to enter a plea.

Emefiele was suspended by President Bola Tinubu on June 9 and was arrested a date later by the DSS. He resigned in August, paving the way for the appointment of new central bank governor Olayemi Cardoso in September.

(Reporting by Camilus Eboh; Writing by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo; Editing by Alison Williams)