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‘Abuse of office’: Emefiele challenges jurisdiction of Lagos court to hear case

Godwin Emefiele, former CBN governor, in court Godwin Emefiele, former CBN governor, in court

Godwin Emefiele has challenged the jurisdiction of the Lagos high court to hear the charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

On Monday, Olalekan Ojo, counsel to Emefiele, argued that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the charges filed against the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Ojo urged the court to strike out counts one to four because the offences relating to abuse of office are unknown to law as required by section 36(12) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

BACKGROUND

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On April 8, Emefiele was arraigned by the federal government alongside his co-defendant, Henry Omole, before Rahmon Oshodi, a judge at the Lagos high court.

The two defendants pleaded not guilty to a 26-count charge.

On the first count, the former CBN governor was accused of abuse of office between 2022 and 2023, in Lagos, an offence punishable under “Section 73 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011”.

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Emefiele was also accused of arbitrarily allocating foreign exchange in the “aggregate sum of $2,136,391,737.33 without bids, which act is prejudicial to the rights of Nigerians”.

Subsequently, the court granted Emefiele N50 million bail.

On April 12, Monday Osazuwa, an official of the CBN, told the court how he collected over $3 million in cash on behalf of Emefiele.

THE COURT SHOULD TOE THE PATH OF LEGALITY’

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At the resumption of hearing on Monday, Emefiele’s counsel asked the court to strike out counts 8 to 26 because the court does not have the jurisdiction to try the former CBN governor.

Ojo asked the court to determine the issue pertaining to jurisdiction before proceeding with the trial.

“This calls for caution. This court is not hungry for jurisdiction. This court is a busy court. It is a court governed by the rule of law,” Emefiele’s counsel said.

“We need to determine whether this court has jurisdiction to embark on this trial. We must toe the path of legality and constitutionality to resolve this issue.”

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Displeased with the objection, Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to the EFCC, asked the court not to defer or prevent the trial on the basis of the objection raised by the defence.

Oyedepo said the application to prevent the trial is “unconstitutional and unlawful”, and that granting it amounts to “judicial rascality”.

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“That approach is intended to take us back to where we are coming from as this was the basis for Section 1 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and the purpose for which Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) was intended,” he said.

“Our collective resolution as a nation was to to prevent undue delay in our criminal cases.

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“This application to prevent the trial today is unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional and I urge the court not to depart from the decision of the apex court as to do so would amount to judicial rascality.”

After hearing the counsels’ arguments, Oshodi deferred ruling on the application to the final day of judgment.

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