Lawyers and civil society organizations have joined the chorus of voices condemning the continued detention and filing of illegal firearms charges against suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, by the Department of State Services (DSS).
This move by the DSS comes despite a recent Federal High Court ruling in Abuja, which declared Emefiele’s arrest and detention as a violation of his fundamental rights and ordered his release within two days.
Prominent lawyers have expressed their condemnation of Emefiele’s prolonged detention and are demanding his immediate release in accordance with the court orders.
Law professor, Sam Erugo, SAN, criticized the charges against Emefiele, stating that they appeared to be an afterthought and indicated that the DSS had no justifiable reason for the initial arrest. He argued that the actions of the DSS were a clear affront to the rule of law and violated Emefiele’s constitutional rights to personal liberty, fair hearing, and freedom of movement.
Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Publicity Secretary, Kunle Edun, commended the DSS for obeying the court order but expressed disappointment in the choice of filing an unlawful possession of firearms charge against Emefiele. Edun believed that this charge was inconsequential and did not warrant the extensive investigation and executive treatment given to Emefiele during his arrest.
Malachy Ugwummadu, former National President of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), viewed the situation as persecution rather than genuine prosecution. He emphasized the importance of obeying court judgments and criticized the DSS’s failure to arraign Emefiele within 24 hours of his arrest, thus violating his right to a fair hearing.
Lawyer Koko Asuquo highlighted that the DSS cannot detain Emefiele beyond the constitutionally allowed period without obtaining a court order, which renders his continued detention illegal.
The United for Truth, Integrity, and Justice Inc. (UTIJ), a Pan-Nigerian advocacy group, described the situation as pure witch-hunt and expressed disappointment with the DSS’s inability to provide evidence supporting the terrorism allegations made against Emefiele. The group called for Emefiele’s immediate release and urged the DSS to adhere to the rule of law.
Overall, lawyers and activists are united in their demand for Emefiele’s immediate release, highlighting concerns about the legality of his detention and the need to uphold the rule of law.