The Maitama High Court in the Federal Capital Territory denied an application submitted by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Based on new information, the DSS filed an extended 14-day detention warrant for Mr Godwin Emefiele, the suspended former Governor of the Central Bank.
The motion, filed in secret by the DSS last Thursday, was titled FCT/HC/M/12105/2023 and was heard by vacation judge Justice Hamza Muazu.
The judge dismissed the application, citing it as an abuse of court process and beyond his jurisdiction.
Justice Muazu questioned the court’s jurisdiction to grant the DSS’s request, considering the provisions of Sections 293 and 296 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
These sections give the Magistrate Court the exclusive right to grant detention orders. After the judge’s questioning, Victor Ejelonu, the DSS’s lawyer, withdrew the application.
Critics believe that the DSS’s actions seem to be an attempt to legitimize their seizure of Mr Emefiele from the Nigeria Correctional Service’s custody in Lagos.
The public response to the DSS’s attempt to secure an additional detention order for Mr Emefiele has been predominantly negative.
Abuja-based constitutional lawyer, Nnamdi Mba in a chat with Nigerian Tribune condemned the move, stating, “You cannot be charging someone to court yet you cannot obey the same court. What the DSS is doing is tantamount to intimidating the courts.”
Another lawyer, C. C. Nwudo who analyzed the situation stated, “Ordinarily when a person is brought to court and takes his plea, it is no longer the duty of the security agency that brought the defendant to court to determine where the person will be held in custody but the duty of the court. Hence once a defendant is granted bail, except the judge specifically mentions otherwise, the men of the Nigeria Correctional Service take custody of such person until the bail conditions are perfected.
“Except they tell a bunch of lies in their application to the judge, no judge knowing the true facts of this matter can grant them such application. I am glad to hear that the judge courageously struck out their application”
Another lawyer, Mr. Hassan Omale in his own reaction said the abduction of Emefiele by the DSS from the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service without a Court order is unlawful and outright criminal and whoever gave the order for such to happen ought to be removed from office immediately.
He said, “With the application having been struck out by the Court, the DSS is now in a very difficult position to continue to further detain Mr. Emefiele who has been in their custody for more than six weeks.
“They cannot continue to hold him illegally and they cannot get another magistrate order to overrule the order of the High Court since the High Court does not have jurisdiction to grant them such an order.
“This is yet another judicial loss suffered by the DSS against Emefiele in a case that has been dubbed by many as persecution and personal vendetta.”