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Former Central Bank Governor Emefiele Arraigned on Firearms Charges, Amid Dramatic Scuffle between Security Agencies

46 days after his arrest by the Department of State Services (DSS) and two weeks after a Federal High Court order for his release or arraignment, suspended Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, was yesterday arraigned for illegal possession of firearms. The arraignment, however, turned into a dramatic standoff between DSS operatives and officials of the Nigerian Prisons Service (NCoS) over custody rights.

Emefiele, who pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge, was accused of possessing a single-barrel shotgun without a license and 123 rounds of live ammunition without proper authorization. Justice Nicholas Oweibo granted him bail in the sum of N20 million and ordered the defendant to deposit his international passport with the court.

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Despite the bail granted, a scuffle ensued between DSS and NCoS officials outside the courtroom over which agency should take custody of Emefiele. The situation escalated, leading to a free-for-all, and the Armed Squad Commander of NCoS was manhandled during the altercation.

Intervention from a senior female DSS official helped ease tensions, and Emefiele was re-arrested by the DSS immediately after leaving the courtroom. The incident has raised concerns about the rule of law and inter-agency cooperation.

Prominent lawyers and human rights activists criticized the DSS’s actions, calling it an exhibition of impunity and a threat to democracy. They urged the government to uphold court orders and maintain professionalism within law enforcement agencies.

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The matter is now adjourned until November 14, 2023, for trial, while Emefiele remains in prison custody. The Concerned Northern Forum also called for the DSS Director-General and Lagos State Director to resign in light of their agency’s conduct. A special panel of inquiry is being demanded to investigate the incident thoroughly.

This incident raises questions about the independence of the judiciary and the need for a more cohesive and respectful relationship between security agencies in Nigeria. It also highlights the importance of upholding the rule of law and respecting court decisions.

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