Embattled CBN governor Godwin Emefiele is a flight risk and has refused to surrender his passport. The apex bank chief, an influential Nigerian, could also use his connections to tamper with evidence, the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court heard on Tuesday.
But on Tuesday, Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court admitted the suspended CBN governor to N20 million bail.
Mr Emefiele is standing trial on a two-count charge bordering on possessing a single-barrel shotgun and possessing 123 rounds of live ammunition without licences.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
After his plea, defence counsel Joseph Daudu who led four other senior advocates informed the court of a bail application filed on behalf of the defendant.
Defence counsel told the court that the same had been served on the prosecution, adding that there is a stamp of the attorney general’s office as proof.
But the prosecutor, N.B Jones, objected to the bail application on the ground that she was served with a copy of the application. She informed the court that her office had been on the lookout for a possible bail application of the defendant but had seen none.
She added that since she had just been aware of the application in court, she needed time to respond by affidavit since facts had been deposed. Besides, she noted that since there is no sitting attorney general of the federation (AGF), the defence could not have effectively served the same.
But defence counsel told the court that the prosecutor had no excuse not to proceed today in response to the bail application as the same had been duly served on the prosecution’s office. He argued that the office of the AGF is a creation of a statute, and so cannot exist in a vacuum. He urged the court to so hold.
In a short ruling, the court agreed with the submission of defence counsel and urged him to move the defendant’s bail application.
Moving the application, defence counsel urged the court to admit the defendant to bail as he is not a flight risk being a reputable CBN governor. He told the court that the defendant had been kept in custody for a long time, had lost weight, and required medical attention, informing the court that the defendant would be available to stand trial, adding that assuming the prosecutor had produced a witness, the defence would have been ready to proceed.
He, therefore, urged the court to grant the defendant bail.
In response, the prosecutor informed the court that she opposed the defendant’s bail application as he was a flight risk. She told the court that the defendant had refused to surrender his passport, which indicates such flight risk.
Besides, she also told the court that the defendant could interfere with the case and evidence as an influential Nigerian. She urged the court to refuse the bail application.
In his ruling, Mr Oweibo agreed with the submission of the defence counsel on the ground that the offence for which the defendant is charged is bailable.
The court held that bail could only be denied where any circumstances set out in section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act are established, stressing that the prosecution did not provide such circumstances before the court.
The court, consequently, granted a N20 million bail to the defendant with one surety in like sum. The court held that the surety must depose to an affidavit of means and have a landed property.
He asked that the defendant be remanded in prison custody pending perfection of bail. The judge adjourned the case until November 14 for trial.
In the charge, the prosecutor told the court that the defendant, who resides at No 8 Colorado Street in Maitama Abuja, committed the offence on June 15, at No. 3b Iru close, Ikoyi Lagos.
He was alleged to have a single barrel shotgun (Jojeff Magnum 8371) without a licence. The defendant was also alleged to have 123 rounds of live ammunition cartridges without a licence.
The offence contravenes sections 4 and 8 of the Firearms Act, Cap F28, Law of the Federation, 2004.