An Abuja High Court sitting in Maitama on Thursday ordered the Department of State Services, DSS, within seven days to release the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, from detention or accused before the court.
The Court, in a decision handed down by Judge Hamza Muazu, ruled that Emefiele’s continued detention without trial was a gross violation of his fundamental human rights.
Justice Muazu acknowledged that the Nigerian Constitution was founded on the rule of law, adding that it presupposed that everything should be done according to the law.
“Detention, no matter how minor, could amount to a violation of fundamental rights,” the court said, adding that since the allegations against the embattled suspended CBN Governor include bail-payable offenses, DSS must grant him administrative bail pending his prosecution.
Still, the court said there was evidence to suggest that there was an order from an Abuja Magistrates’ Court that allowed the security agency to detain Emefiele for 14 days to complete its investigation.
The court held that Emefiel had not proved that his arrest, detention and investigation were unlawful because it was based on a valid court order.
Describing the DSS as an accredited institution tasked with guaranteeing the internal security of the country, Judge Muazu said that it must carry out its operations in strict accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
“Although I sympathize with the appellant (Emefiele), my feelings will not go far in giving judgment in granting all the relief sought by the appellant.
“The applicant did not demonstrate that the arrest, detention and investigation were unlawful.
“However, I am concerned that the application is futile. The petitioner is entitled to a fair hearing.
“At this stage, the continued detention of the applicant cannot be justified in the absence of a charge against him.
At the very least, justice requires that the applicant be released on administrative bail.
“Consequently, I pass an order directing the respondents to produce the applicant before the court within a week or release him on administrative bail,” the court said.
The ruling follows a fundamental rights enforcement lawsuit that Emefiele filed through her team of lawyers led by former President of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN.