Nigerian judge rules central bank chief must be released or charged

In a ruling on Thursday, Nigeria’s High Court instructed the state security service to either release Godwin Emefiele, the country’s detained and suspended central bank governor, or bring formal charges against him within a week.

Following his suspension by newly elected President Bola Tinubu on June 9, Godwin Emefiele, the central bank governor, was arrested the following day by the Department of State Security.

Government lawyers have filed documents revealing that Godwin Emefiele is facing criminal charges, which include allegations of misappropriation of funds.

If convicted, he could potentially face significant prison sentences. However, Emefiele has not yet been formally charged or appeared in court.

While Godwin Emefiele and his legal team have lodged an appeal against his detention, they have refrained from making any public statements regarding the accusations leveled against him.

“The applicant (Emefiele) should be charged (in) court within one week from the date of this ruling or he should be released,” Judge Hamza Muazu said in a ruling on Thursday.

The judge declared that the offenses attributed to the central bank chief, which encompass criminal breach of trust, incitement of violence, and economic sabotage, are bailable.

He emphasized that the investigation conducted by the security service must not be prolonged indefinitely.

According to Nigeria’s constitution, individuals who are accused of a crime cannot be detained for more than 48 hours without being brought before a court of law.

Government lawyers have indicated that they obtained an order from the lower magistrate court, permitting them to extend the detention of Emefiele, citing ongoing investigations as the reason for the extension.

Godwin Emefiele, who was appointed by former president Muhammadu Buhari for a second five-year term in 2019, was originally scheduled to retire next year.

Buhari’s administration advocated for a robust currency, considering it a matter of national pride.

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