Lawyers initiate contempt case against DSS DG, Bichi over continued detention of Emefiele

Dissatisfied with the arrest and prolonged detention of the suspended governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, a group of human rights lawyers have initiated contempt action against the Director General of the Department of State Services(DSS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi.

Form 48, which is the notification of consequences of disobedience to a court order, and Form 49, which seeks to commit an alleged contemnor to prison, were filed on Monday before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

The legal practitioners, led by Mr. Maxwell Opara and Ahmed Tijani, in an affidavit they attached to the applications, accused the DSS boss of disobeying subsisting court judgements with regards to Emefiele’s arrest and detention.

Specifically, they claimed that the security agency and its DSS, acted in breach of a judgement of the court delivered by Justice M. A. Hassan, which they claimed restrained the Respondents from arresting, detaining or interrogating the embattled CBN governor, for offences connected to terrorism financing, money laundering, round tripping and financial crimes of national security dimension.

They alleged that without appealing to set aside the extant court order, the Respondents, proceeded to arrest and detain Emefiele “for well over a month while shopping for evidence.”

Speaking with newsmen shortly after the applications were filed in court, leader of the group, Mr. Opara, equally accused the Respondents of disobeying judgements delivered by Justice Hamza Muazu and Justice Bello Kawu of the high court, which he said, also stopped Emefiele’s arrest.

He said the group would pursue the matter to its logical conclusion with a view to ensuring that public offices were not used for personal vendetta.

While describing as “ridiculous”, the charge of illegal possession of firearms the security agency entered against Emefiele before the Federal High Court in Lagos, Mr. Opara, maintained that the allegations were bailable offences.

“If possessing a validly registered pump action gun is a crime worthy of being held in perpetuity, what has the SSS done to the person threatening Nigerians from a particular section of the country with an assault rifle?

“This clearly shows the travail of Mr. Emefiele is more for political reasons than for any other,” the lawyer added.

It will be recalled that Emefiele was arrested at his Ikoyi residence in Lagos on June 10, a day after he was suspended as the governor of the CBN by President Tinubu.

He had since then, remained in custody as the DSS maintained that his detention was basedon the order of an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court.

In the two-count charge marked: FHC/L/437/2023, Emefiele, was accused of unlawfully possessing one single barrel shot gun (Jojeff Magnum 8371) without licence, and thereby committed an offence under Section 4 of the Firearms Laws of the Federation 2004 and punishable under Section 27 (1) (b) (i) of the same act.

He was equally accused of having in his possession, 123 rounds of live ammunition (catridges) without licence.

The security agency told the court that the items were recovered when it searched Emefiele’s residence at No.3B Iru Close, Ikoyi, Lagos.

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