The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Thursday struck out the illegal possession of firearms charge filed by the Federal Government against the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo made the order following an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Abubakar, to withdraw the two-count charge.
Abubakar relied on Section 108 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.
The defence through its lead counsel Mr. J.B. Daodu had argued that the prosecution could not withdraw the charge unless the government first purges itself of its disobedience to the court’s July 25 order granting Emefiele N20million bail.
But Justice Oweibo, while condemning the government’s conduct, granted its application.
He said: “The conduct of the prosecution has shown that it doesn’t respect the rule of law.
“Of what benefit will it be to keep the file in the court’s docket when the prosecution has shown disrespect to the court?
“Accordingly this charge is hereby struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.”
ABN TV reports that on Tuesday, the government applied to withdraw the charge, saying it had filed a 20-count charge against the embattled banker in Abuja.
Emefiele has been in the custody of the State Security Services (SSS) (or self-styled Department of State Security) since June 10 following his suspension by President Bola Tinubu on June 9.
Following his arraignment on July 25 on a two-count charge of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, Justice Oweibo granted him N20m bail and ordered his remand at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, pending the fulfilment of his bail conditions.
But the DSS rearrested the bank chief after fighting off NCoS officials on the court’s premises.
Following proceedings on August 10, the court fixed Tuesday last week to hear two pending applications filed by either party.
The first application – filed by the Ministry of Justice on August 3 – sought leave to appeal against the N20m bail.
The second – filed by Emefiele on August 8 – asked the court to stop the Federal Government from further prosecuting him on the charge of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition or any other charge.
When the matter came up Tuesday last week, the DPP, made an oral application to the court seeking to withdraw the charges against Emefiele.
He stated that the application was informed by emerging facts and for circumstances that need further investigation.