In a significant legal development, the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Maitama, has directed the Federal Government to pay the sum of N100 million to the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
The court, presided over by Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, declared Emefiele’s prolonged detention without trial as illegal and unconstitutional, citing a violation of his fundamental rights.
Justice Adeniyi, in a judgment delivered on Monday, ruled in favor of Godwin Emefiele, declaring the Federal Government’s actions as a flagrant breach of the rights enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The court’s decision came in response to a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by the ex-CBN governor, questioning the legality of his extended detention in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The court not only ordered the payment of N100 million in damages but also issued a restraining order against the Federal Government and its agencies, preventing them from re-arresting or detaining Emefiele without a court order.
Emefiele’s legal ordeal began with his suspension by President Bola Tinubu on June 9, followed by his arrest at his Lagos residence by DSS operatives. Subsequently facing charges of illegal possession of a firearm, ammunition, and corruption, Emefiele spent a total of 151 days in custody before being granted bail with conditions he fulfilled on December 23.
The judgment has sparked reactions within legal and political circles, with discussions centering on the implications for individuals’ fundamental rights and the accountability of government actions.
Critics argue that the ruling underscores the importance of respecting due process and upholding the rule of law, even in cases involving high-profile figures.
As the Federal Government is mandated to pay N100 million in damages to Emefiele, the case sets a precedent for safeguarding fundamental rights and emphasizes the imperative for adherence to legal procedures in the treatment of individuals, regardless of their status.
The decision serves as a reminder of the judiciary’s role in upholding justice and constitutional principles.