..Suspended CBN boss is flight risk, says OAGF
. ‘Family members, lawyers not denied access’
THE Department of State Services (DSS) and the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (OAGF) have explained their opposition to the bail application filed by the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele.
Their reasons were contained in the counter-affidavits they filed before the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Abuja.
The DSS warned that the suspended CBN boss, if admitted to bail, could interfere with its investigations if admitted to bail.
The OAGF specifically dismissed speculations that Emefiele was being held for terrorist-related crimes. It also said the CBN boss’ detention has nothing to do with neither his foray into partisan politics, nor the botched naira redesign policy.
In its counter-affidavit, the DSS said that those linked to the CBN boss in the course of the investigation have gone underground and ought to be traced and arrested to enable a successful prosecution.
The DSS said that Emefiele was being held pursuant to an order of a competent court.
It explained that the suspended CBN boss was arrested “upon reasonable suspicion of committing acts which constitute criminal breach of trust, incitement to violence, criminal misappropriation of public fund, economic sabotage, economic crimes of national security dimension and undermining the security of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The counter-affidavit by the service reads: “Upon the arrest of the applicant, a detention order was duly and promptly procured from a court of competent jurisdiction to enable the 2nd and 3rd respondents to keep the applicant in lawful custody for a period of 14 days when it became apparent that investigation into the allegations levelled against him would take a little while to conclude.
“Also, the arrest of the applicant is not in connection with his financial or monetary policies, including the recent re-design of the naira which was approved by His Excellency, the former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The applicant is still being investigated and as soon as the investigation is completed, the applicant will be immediately charged to court where necessary.
“The applicant has enormous resources at his disposal and can easily interfere with an ongoing investigation and even evade subsequent arrest if released on bail.
“The applicant is a flight risk and there is credible intelligence that he making a frantic effort to flee the country if released prematurely on bail.
“The investigation has assumed a wider dimension and other collaborators fingered in the course of the investigation are at large and ought to be traced and arrested to enable a successful prosecution.
“Any attempt to grant the applicant bail at this stage of the investigation may interfere with other exhibits yet to be collected and jeopardize ongoing investigation in the matter;
“The activities of the applicant constitute a potent threat to national security and cohesion of the Nigeria state;
“The applicant instituted this suit with the sole aim of preventing the 2nd and 3rd respondents from discharging their statutory mandate by seeking to use this court to fetter the hands of the 2nd and 3rd respondents in the ongoing security investigation.”
In its counter-affidavit, the OAGF argued that Emefiele’s life was not in danger to warrant him being granted bail, arguing that he would flee the country if granted bail.
It described Emefiele as a “flight risk”, to justify his continued detention.
After the resumed hearing of the suit in which Emefiele is challenging his detention, the DSS denied not allowing his family members and lawyers to visit him.
The OAGF said: “Issues of terrorism financing and fraudulent activities are not part of the grounds for the arrest and detention of the applicant.
“The respondents have not violated the applicant’s right to live in anyway; his life is not in danger. The respondents did not subject the applicant to any judicial adjudication to warrant the allegation of denial of a fair hearing.
“With the remand order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction, the said violation of the applicant’s right to freedom of movement does not arise.
The respondents did not subject the applicant to any torture, the details of which have not been provided.”
The OAGF and the DSS picked holes in the claim by the suspended CBN governor that he was unlawfully detained.
Emefiele had sued to challenge his continued detention by the DSS.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Tijani Gazal, who represented the OAGF, urged the court to dismiss the suit, arguing that Emefiele’s allegation of unlawful detention was unfounded.
Gazali said as the suspended CBN governor was being detained on the order of an FCT Chief Magistrates Court.
He told the court that the OAGF (listed as the 1st respondent) was challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.
The senior agency argued that Emefiele’s arrest and detention was an administrative decision of an arm of the Executive arm of government.
He stressed that a court’s jurisdiction is determined by the reliefs sought by an applicant.
Lawyer to the DSS I. Awo said there was a subsisting order to detain Emefiele.
Awo, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the suit with cost.
But Emefiele’s lawyer, Joseph Daudu (SAN), argued that the court has the jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit.
Daudu pointed out that the alleged offences listed against his client were state offences that could be tried by the High Court of the FCT.
After entertaining arguments from parties, Justice Hamza Muazu adjourned till July 13 for a ruling.
After the adjournment, the DSS said in a statement by its spokesman, Peter Afunanya, that the celebration of the news of a court order to allow Emefiele’s lawyers and family members access to him was unnecessary.
The Service also said in the statement titled “The DSS operates within its mandate” that it expected expects attacks over the suspension of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman (EFCC) Abdulrasheed Bawa.
The statement partly reads: “He (Emefiele) was never denied access. Ever since he was taken into custody, his family has continually accessed him; same with medical officials. The impression that the Service is going to act on the prompting of the Court is not correct.”
Making reference to some “editorials” it considered unsavoury, the DSS said it knew that some groups and persons would come up with frivolous allegations against it.
The service added: “These entities may also exploit unpatriotic members of the service to spread falsehoods, propaganda and hate in order to project the organisation in a bad light.
“Given their reach and war chest to mobilise forces against Government and its key officials, the adversaries may intend to cause distractions to the ongoing investigations as directed by the C-in-C (Commander-in-Chief). However, the Service will not depose its professionalism for cheap backlash nor discharge its duty with prejudice or fear.”