The tussle ensued after a Lagos court granted the suspended CBN chief bail and ordered that he should be moved from DSS custody and remanded at a correctional centre.
Officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), on Tuesday, fought over the custody of suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.
The secret police and prison officials clashed over the agency to take custody of the suspended and embattled apex bank chief after Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Lagos admitted Emefiele to bail in the sum of the N20m.
There was a clash at the Federal High Court in Lagos as operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and officials of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) tussled over who would take custody of suspended Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele.#CTVTweets pic.twitter.com/RCeYrvFdYv
— Channels Television (@channelstv) July 25, 2023
The judge also ordered that Emefiele be remanded at the correctional center pending the fulfillment of the bail conditions.
Shortly after the ruling, DSS operatives strategically positioned their Hilux Pick Up van used in bring Emefiele to court, in a manner suggesting that they wanted to take him back to their detention centre.
This prompted Emefiele’s lead counsel, Joseph Daudu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and other lawyers to raise an alarm about their client’s planned re-arrest by the secret police.
After the court ruling, the suspended CBN governor holed up inside the courtroom with his lawyers.
However, when the prison officials moved to take Emefiele into custody pending the fulfillment of his bail conditions, the secret police challenged them and it led to a fight.
Prison Officials Vacate Court Premises
Amid the clash, Emefiele’s lawyers “reluctantly allowed the DSS disobey court order and take custody of their client” to avoid a gun battle.
The prison officials then exited the court in their vehicle and the DSS took charge.
President Bola Tinubu had suspended Emefiele as the apex bank chief on June 9, 2023. A day after, the Department of State Services (DSS) confirmed that the embattled and suspended CBN chief was in its custody.
Emefiele Arraigned, Pleads Not Guilty
After several legal fireworks by Emefiele’s counsel challenging his prolonged detention by the DSS, the secret police bowed to pressure on July 13, 2023 and announced that the suspended apex bank chief has been charged to court.
Emefiele was brought to court by DSS operatives in a hilux vehicle on Tuesday, July 25, 2023.
Appearing before Justice Oweibo, Emefiele, 61, pleaded “not guilty” to the two counts of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition filed against him by the Federal Government.
In his submissions, Emefiele’s lawyer, Daudu, urged the court to grant bail on self recognizance or on other liberal terms, pending the hearing and determination of the trial.
He said, “There is no counter affidavit from the Federal Government opposing bail. Also, the defendant is a renowned banker and can only stay at his house, he can’t travel anywhere.”
However, counsel for the Federal Government, Nkiru Jones-Nebo, in an oral submission, opposed the bail application, insisting that the prosecution had not been given time to respond in line with the provisions of fair hearing enshrined in the constitution.
She also said that the prosecution had information that the defendant’s refusal to hand in his passport suggested his capacity to evade and abscond from his trial.
“As the governor of the CBN, he is a powerful man, and can intimidate the witnesses. Granting him bail will intimidate the prosecution witnesses who have come forward to give evidence. He can evade trial based on his antecedents. We urge the court to dismiss the bail application,” she argued.
But the court overruled the Federal Government.
The judge also ordered that Emefiele be held at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, pending the perfection of his bail as against the request of the prosecution that the defendant should be remanded in DSS custody for further investigation on another matter that may soon by filed in court.
But the secret police fought prison officials who came to the court to take custody of Emefiele.
The trial has been fixed for November 14, 2023.
In his ruling on the bail application, Justice Oweibo said, “I find and hold that the prosecution has failed to establish why the defendant should not be granted bail.
“Consequently the defendant is admitted to bail in the sum of 20 million naira with one surety in like sum.
“The surety must be owner of a landed property within the jurisdiction of the court who must not be less than Level 16 in the Nigerian Civil Service.
“The defendant must deposit his international passport to the court.
“Case is adjourned to 14th of November for trial.”