Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, has appealed the decision of an Abuja Federal High Court ordering him to appear in a $53 million judgment debt claim.
The CBN governor was reportedly called by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the FHC last year for allegedly refusing to abide by the court’s direction to pay the judgment debt in favor of a lawyer named Joe Agi (SAN).
Emefiele was supposed to appear before the court on January 18 (Wednesday), but when the case was called, it was impossible to continue as planned, therefore the court decided to postpone the case until March 20.
The judgment summons, which is currently the subject of an appeal, arose out of the lawsuit filed by Joe Agi (SAN) against Linas International Ltd., the Minister of Finance, and CBN.
However, Emefiele claimed that Justice Ekwo committed a legal error and harmed the administration of justice when he issued an order requiring his appearance in court for the $53 million debt in his notice of appeal, which was supported by three grounds.
The CBN governor informed the appellate court that two appeals against the decision that the judgment summons attempted to enforce, marked CA/A/476/2018 between CBN V Joe Agi (SAN), and two others, and CA/A/23/2020 between CBN V Joe Agi (SAN), had been filed before the Court of Appeal.
Emefiele, through his attorney Damien Dodo (SAN), stated in the appeal he filed on January 13, 2023, that the actions taken to compel his appearance after appeals had been filed put the trial court in a position where it was exercising concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Appeal over the same issue.
When the trial judge forced and ordered him to personally appear in court without making a decision, he claimed that the trial judge committed a legal error that caused a miscarriage of justice. His application also contested the court’s jurisdiction.
As a result, he called the appeal court’s attention to his application, which was submitted on January 27, 2020, contesting the court’s jurisdiction as well as the delivery of forms 13 and 15 to him in violation of the requirements of section 56, part IV of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act.
Emefiele claimed that on February 22, 2022, the appellants jointly filed a request for the issuance and service of forms 13 and 15 on him to be set aside on the grounds that they shouldn’t have been sent out while the two aforementioned appeals were pending and while motions on notice for a stay of execution were still pending as of March 26, 2018 and July 11, 2019, respectively.
The appellant further argued that the lower court’s decision requiring his appearance in court on January 18, 2023, when he is not a party to the case before it, was illegal and resulted in a miscarriage of justice.
As a result, he asked the appellate court to accept his appeal and vacate the Federal High Court’s rulings.
In the meantime, there had been some controversy surrounding the police officers’ Tuesday visit to the CBN governor’s residence in the Federal Capital Territory.
Around 8.40 p.m. on Tuesday, our correspondent observed the armed police officers, who numbered over 10, at the residence of the troubled apex bank governor in Maitama, Abuja.
Both the Federal Capital Territory Police Command and the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters denied being aware of the police presence.
However, according to police sources, the security crew was there to make sure the CBN governor showed up to court on Wednesday.
Emefiele had been sent a summons by the Federal High Court in Abuja regarding the $53 million judgment obligation related to the Paris Club’s reimbursement.
Justice Inyang Ekwo directed the CBN governor to appear on Wednesday, January 18, 2023, as the hearing date in a garnishee application filed on October 20, 2022.
Emefiele must first appear, according to a court order from January 23, 2020, “to be examined on oath touching the means you have or have had, since the date of the said garnishee order absolute, to pay the balance of $53m now due and payable under the said garnishee order absolute and also show cause why you should not be committed to prison for default in payment of the said sum.”
The lawsuit was brought about by an alleged $70 million judgment against Linas for the attorney’s assistance with the Paris Club reimbursement.
The CBN governor allegedly only released $17 million, leaving a balance of $53 million. Deji Ajare, a lawyer, commented on the situation by saying that the police might force Emefiele to appear in court based on a court order.
“The police have the constitutional powers to arrest and bring a person to court. They can also enforce the order of the court, compelling the appearance of a person or official in court,” he stated.
The CBN deputy governors were reportedly questioned by the Department of State Services on Monday in relation to an audit.
As Emefiele returned to work on Monday, the conflict between the CBN governor and the DSS over a plan to arrest him appeared to have been suspended.
After spending many weeks in the United Kingdom and the United States due to alleged DSS conspiracies to have him arrested, he returned to work at the central bank’s headquarters in Abuja.
The governor returned to work despite worries over his absence since last month, the central bank said in a statement by Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, director of corporate communications for the CBN.
On Monday, the DSS additionally denied breaking into the CBN headquarters in Abuja.
The DSS allegedly invaded the CBN headquarters to arrest the chief executive officer, according to claims in various media sites (not The Punch).
The DSS denied arresting Emefiele in a statement released on Monday by Peter Afunanya, the agency’s public relations officer.
The claimed DSS conspiracy to detain the top banker in the country, however, appears to have temporarily come to an end as a result of the event.
Emefiele, possibly the most troubled and divisive CBN governor in recent memory of the nation, fled the country last month after the secret service agency requested a court order to detain him over claims relating to, among other things, the financing of terrorism and money laundering.