In a surprising turn of events, Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Lagos strongly rebuked the Federal Government for its lack of adherence to the rule of law and disrespect for the court. This condemnation came as he struck out firearm possession charges brought against Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Justice Oweibo’s scathing remarks were delivered during the court proceedings on Thursday, as he cited a pattern of non-compliance and disregard for judicial processes by the government. The firearm possession charge was dismissed due to what the judge termed “want of diligent prosecution.”
The suspended CBN governor had faced allegations of firearm possession, but the case was dropped after a withdrawal application by the Director of Public Prosecution of the Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Abubakar. The defense, represented by Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN, argued against the application, pointing out that the government’s non-compliance with the court’s orders, including the grant of bail, should not permit the withdrawal of charges.
Despite the defense’s objections, Justice Oweibo, relying on the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, granted the prosecution’s application to withdraw the charges. He emphasized that the court could not force the prosecution to proceed if they chose not to, and noted that the charges could be struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.
Meanwhile, a fresh arraignment of Mr. Emefiele on a 20-count charge related to alleged N6.9 billion fraud was stalled due to the absence of one of the defendants, Saadat Yaro. The Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, informed the court that Mrs. Yaro was unable to attend due to illness. The case was subsequently adjourned to August 23.
Immediately following the adjournment, armed operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) escorted Mr. Emefiele away from the court premises. The developments highlight the ongoing legal battles surrounding the suspended CBN governor and the complex relationship between the judiciary and the government.