A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria today struck out the firearm charges filed against the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Godwin Emefiele.
The Presiding Judge Nicholas Oweibo struck out the charge for want of diligent prosecution, following the withdrawal application made by the Director of Public Prosecution from the Ministry of Justice Mohammed Abubakar.
Last week the DPP made an oral application to the court to withdraw the charges against Emefiele.
He stated that the application was informed by imaging facts and for circumstances that need further investigations and urged the court to grant the application.
Abubakar said the application was pursuant to Sections 174 (1) (c) (2) and 108 (2) (4)
However the defence counsel Joseph Daudu (SAN) disagreed with the prosecution’s oral application, arguing that because the government was in disobedience of the court’s order granting Emefiele bail, its application could not be heard.
“He said, there is no application before the court, there is no doubt and I am not disputing the facts that the state can withdraw any charge before the court against any person.”
Daudu further argued that in the past the argument was there was no Attorney General of the Federation who can handle the case.
He cited Section 174 (3) of the Constitution that the AGF has power that can be devolved to any of its officers.
“We have an application that the AGF has flouted the court order which says the respondent/ defendant should be remanded at the Nigeria Correctional Service granted but they are not obeying the order.
After taking the arguments of the counsel, Justice Oweibo adjourned the case till today to rule on the withdrawal application.
Emefiele was arraigned on two counts bordering on possession of a single barrel shotgun, as well as possession of 123 rounds of live ammunition without licences.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The judge had on July 25, admitted Emefiele to a N20milliomion bail and ordered his remand at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, pending when he is able to perfect his bail conditions.
But the DSS rearrested the embattled former CBN boss after fighting off Correctional services officials at the court’s premises.
However, the government filed fresh 20 charges against Emefiele in Abuja.
On August 1, 2023, the court granted Emefiele leave to serve the Director General, Department of State Services, Mr. Yusuf Magaji Bichi the order of court admitting him to bail and directing his remand in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service.
Justice Oweibo granted the order following an ex-parte application moved by Emefiele’s counsel, Mrs Ogonnaya Sonuga.
On August 10, 2023, the court adjourned the case till August 15, 2023, for the hearing of applications seeking to stop further prosecution of the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, and that of the Ministry of Justice seeking to appeal the bail granted him by the court..
Consequently, the matter was adjourned to August 15, for the hearing of all applications.
But the hearing of the applications did not go on as the DPP made an oral application for withdrawal of the charge.
Ruling on the application today Justice Nicholas Oweibo declared that the application filed by the Director of Public Prosecution, seeking the withdrawal of the case was found in Section 108 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA) which empowers him to withdraw the charge and there was no requirement for the application to be in writing.
In allowing the withdrawal of the charge, the judge wondered what good it will do to the defence if the court does not allow the withdrawal.
“The prosecution has shown signs that they are not law-abiding and have no respect for the court. The court cannot force them. What good will it be for the defendant who is in custody?
Of what benefit will it be to keep the file in the court’s docket?
“I believe the proper thing is to allow them to withdraw the charge. They can simply abandon it and the court will still have to strike it out for lack of diligent prosecution. The application to withdraw is hereby granted,” Justice Oweibo said.