The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has been given a deadline of January 25 to appear before a Federal High Court in Abuja and provide an explanation regarding the circumstances surrounding the $53 million judgment debt arising from the Pars Club refund. Failure to appear by this date will result in the issuance of a warrant for his arrest.
Justice Inyang Ekwo made this decision after considering a plea by Emefiele and the CBN’s legal counsel, Audu Anuga, SAN, who stated that all efforts to ensure Emefiele’s personal appearance in court had been unsuccessful, as he was still in custody.
Anuga informed the court that an affidavit justifying the need for an arrest warrant against Emefiele was filed on October 30. Justice Ekwo then asked I.A. Nnana, the lawyer representing Mr. Joe Agi, SAN, the judgment creditor/applicant, if he had been served with the affidavit.
Nnana responded that they were served on Monday, close to the end of the workday, and they would like to respond.
The judge cautioned Anuga about the late filing of documents, reminding him that the case had been scheduled for July 19. Anuga explained that every effort was made until October 27 to secure Emefiele’s release, as ordered by the court, but the order was not complied with, leading to the filing of the affidavit.
Anuga suggested that since settlement discussions had been explored in the past and the CBN had a new governor, they should be allowed to continue exploring settlement options. However, Justice Ekwo insisted that Emefiele must appear on the next adjourned date.
Justice Ekwo emphasized the importance of complying with court orders, whether or not others do so. He adjourned the matter until January 25, requiring Emefiele to demonstrate why an arrest warrant should not be issued against him.
In an affidavit on Emefiele’s behalf, deposed to by Jeremiah Utaan, a legal officer at the CBN’s Legal Department, it was stated that Emefiele was willing to appear in court as directed, but he was being held in custody by the Department of State Services (DSS) since June 10, which prevented his physical presence in court on the last adjourned date of July 19. Emefiele’s absence was attributed to circumstances beyond his control, and it was emphasized that issuing an arrest warrant would not serve the cause of justice.
Justice Ekwo had previously threatened to issue an arrest warrant against Emefiele on July 19 for failing to appear in court. On October 20, 2022, the judge ordered Emefiele to appear in court on January 18 over his alleged refusal to comply with the court’s order for the payment of the judgment debt in favour of Joe Agi, SAN, a legal practitioner.
The case experienced multiple adjournments due to Emefiele’s circumstances, including his suspension as CBN governor, and his subsequent arrests by the DSS and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged impropriety during his tenure as the head of the central bank.
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