Tensions escalated on Tuesday as Department of State Security (DSS) operatives and prison officials clashed over the custody of Godwin Emefiele, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The scuffle occurred after a Lagos court granted Emefiele bail and ordered that he be moved from DSS custody to a correctional center.
Following the court’s ruling, DSS operatives attempted to retain custody of Emefiele by positioning their Hilux Pick Up van strategically. Emefiele’s legal team, led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Joseph Daudu, raised concerns about the potential re-arrest of their client by the secret police.
As prison officials sought to take Emefiele into custody pending the fulfillment of his bail conditions, the DSS objected, leading to a confrontation. Eventually, Emefiele’s lawyers reluctantly allowed the DSS to take custody to avoid further conflict.
During the court appearance, Emefiele, aged 61, pleaded “not guilty” to charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition filed against him by the Federal Government. His lawyer, Daudu, urged the court to grant bail on self-recognizance or other liberal terms pending the trial’s hearing and determination.
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.
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.
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.