Constitutional Concerns Raised as DSS’s Attempt to Detain Ex-Central Bank Governor Fails in Court

…By for TDPel Media. The Maitama High Court in the Federal Capital Territory has dismissed an application submitted by the Department of State Services (DSS).

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The application sought a 14-day detention order for Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the suspended former Governor of the Central Bank, based on new evidence claimed to have been found by the DSS.

The application, filed in secrecy on the previous Thursday, was assigned the case number FCT/HC/M/12105/2023 and was presented before vacation judge Justice Hamza Muazu.

Jurisdictional Challenge and Withdrawal of Application

Justice Muazu deemed the DSS’s application as an abuse of court process and beyond his jurisdiction.

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He questioned whether the court had the authority to grant the DSS’s request, considering the provisions of Sections 293 and 296 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which confer the exclusive right to grant detention orders to the Magistrate Court.

In response to the judge’s questioning, Victor Ejelonu, the lawyer representing the DSS, withdrew the application.

Criticism of DSS’s Actions

Critics have strongly condemned the DSS’s attempts to secure an additional detention order for Mr. Emefiele.

They view this move as an apparent effort to legitimize the DSS’s seizure of Mr. Emefiele from the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service in Lagos.

Nnamdi Mba, an Abuja-based constitutional lawyer, expressed his disapproval, asserting that the DSS’s actions amount to intimidation of the courts.

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He argued that a security agency charging someone to court cannot refuse to obey the same court’s orders.

Court’s Role in Custody Determination

C. C. Nwudo, another legal expert, emphasized that once a defendant takes their plea in court, the duty of determining the defendant’s custody lies with the court, not the security agency that brought them to court.

The Nigeria Correctional Service takes custody of a defendant granted bail by the court until the bail conditions are fulfilled, unless otherwise specified by the judge.

The lawyers are of the opinion that the DSS’s application was unlikely to succeed, as judges would be well aware of the true facts of the matter.

Implications of Application Rejection

The rejection of the DSS’s application has put them in a difficult position regarding Mr. Emefiele’s custody.

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Having been in their custody for over six weeks, they cannot continue to detain him illegally, and obtaining another magistrate order to override the High Court’s decision is not possible since the High Court lacks the jurisdiction to grant such an order.

As a result, the DSS is facing judicial setbacks in a case that has been widely criticized as a form of persecution and personal vendetta against Mr. Emefiele.

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