Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday, adjourned till August 15, 2023, for hearing of applications seeking to stop further prosecution of suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and that of the Ministry of Justice, seeking to appeal the bail granted him.
The judge fixed the date to enable the defence to reply to the prosecution’s further counter affidavit, which was served on the defence in court just before proceedings began.
Ruling on whether the applications were ripe for hearing, the judge held that the application of the prosecution has been concluded and was ripe for hearing but since the defence had not responded to the further counter affidavit served on them in court, it would be best for the applications to be taken jointly in one day.
As a result, he adjourned till August 15 for hearing of all applications.
Earlier, when the case was called, the prosecution counsel Mrs K. A. Fagbemi, who is the assistant chief state counsel, told the court that they filed a Motion on Notice, dated August 3, 2023, and that they had served the defendant/respondent, and the defence had equally responded.
In his response, the defence counsel, Victor Opara (SAN), submitted that the prosecution’s application was not ripe for hearing.
He said the complainant served the application on Friday, August 4, 2023, in the afternoon, and by Monday, they replied with their counter and served the complainant on Tuesday in Abuja.
Opara said the defence counter affidavit was challenging the complainant’s application.
He said: “Our conception is that by reason of principle of priority of application, this our application is superior and it is stated in grounds six and seven of our application, that by disobedience of clear and direct potent orders of this court, they should not even be allowed to move the application, having disobeyed the court.”
Fagbemi, in her counter reply, said the defence did not have a right of reply, adding that by the principle of priority, the prosecution’s motion comes first and was ripe for hearing.
She further urged the court to hear her application.
However, Opara asked the court to give them time to reply to the application.
After listening to the argument of both parties, Oweibo held that the justice of the case would be met if both applications were taken on the same day.
Emefiele, in a motion on notice, dated August 7, 2023, is asking for an order prohibiting the complainant from further prosecuting the charge or any other charge against him or seeking any form of indulgence before the court, inclusive of the application to grant leave to appeal against the order granting the appellant bail and other ancillary orders.
“An order discharging the defendant/appellant from the instant charge, which cannot be lawfully prosecuted by the complainant who is in brazen disobedience of subsisting orders of the court made on July 25, 2023.”
Emefiele asked the court for an order to stay further proceedings in the current charge until he exhausts all remedies available to him in law, to compel the government to obey the order of the court admitting him to bail or remanding him in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service until he perfects his bail terms.
The defendant, through his lawyers, led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Joseph Daudu, filed the application before Oweibo, who had admitted him to bail after he was arraigned.
The application was filed pursuant to Section 6(6)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), relevant sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, and under the inherent powers of the court.
Emefiele further sought the orders on the ground that until set aside, an order of court remains valid for all intents and purposes.
“That the complainant, having brazenly defied the orders of court made on July 25, is in contempt of proceedings of the court. Until the complainant complies with the afore-described subsisting orders of the court, it cannot continue to lawfully prosecute the charge; neither can it be afforded any right of audience in any court in Nigeria.”
He also sought to invoke the jurisdiction of the court to enforce its orders, so as not to be seen as a toothless bulldog or paper tiger.
The government, in its motion of notice, is seeking leave to appeal against the bail granted Emefiele on the ground of mixed law and facts and a stay of the order placing him in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services.
Emefiele, in a counter affidavit in opposition to the motion on notice, deposed to by Adeogun Samuel of Opara (SAN) Chambers, stated that paragraphs 3g to 3q and paragraphs 4,5, and 6 of the affidavit in support of the complainant/applicant’s application are either false or untrue and are denied.
He stated that contrary to the depositions in the affidavit in support of the complainant/applicant’s application, the complainant/applicant was served with the summons for bail, filed by counsel on behalf of the defendant/respondent.
The deponent also stated that the complainant’s counsel, Federal Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Nkiru Jones-Nebo, had admitted on record before the court on July 25, 2023, that although the office of the Attorney General (AG) was served, there was no occupant of the AG’s office, hence they did not see the application.