The Federal High Court in Abuja threatened to issue an arrest warrant against suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele on Wednesday for failing to appear in court to explain the circumstances surrounding the $53 million judgment debt arising from the Paris Club refund.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, who ordered Mr Emefiele to appear on the next adjourned date, stated that he was willing to suspend the proceedings to allow the ex-CBN boss to explain himself.
Mr Emefiele’s counsel, Audu Anuga, SAN, intervened, pleading with the court to give his client another chance because they had been unable to reach him since the previous order instructing him to appear in court.
Mr Anuga informed the court that Mr Emefiele, the suspended CBN governor, had been detained and that all attempts to relay the court’s directive to him had been futile.
Mr Ekwo had ordered the CBN governor to appear in court on January 18, 2022, for allegedly refusing to obey the court’s direction to settle the judgment debt in favour of a legal practitioner, Joe Agi, SAN.
Mr Agi had taken Linas International Ltd, the Minister of Finance, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and Mr Emefiele to court as the first to fourth judgment debtors in the case, following an application for garnishee lodged by him as the judgment creditor.
However, when the case was called on January 18, the hearings could not progress as planned, causing the court to dismiss the case.
But President Bola Tinubu, on June 9, suspended him as CBN governor, and he was directed to transfer his responsibilities to the deputy governor, operations directorate.
No sooner had Mr Emefiele been suspended than the State Security Service (SSS), on June 10, announced his arrest and detention.
Upon resumed hearing on Wednesday, Ayodele Arotiowa, who appeared for Mr Agi, was about to make a submission when Justice Ekwo asked Mr Emefiele’s lawyer if he had complied with the order.
We rely solely on public communication to know that the fourth respondent is imprisoned and that we have been unable to connect with him,” Mr Anuga responded.
He stated that there was a new development on whether Mr Emefiele could operate on behalf of the CBN.
Mr Emefiele was sued in his own capacity, according to the judge, who stated that CBN had no difficulty here.
“But the public information now is that he has been suspended,” Mr Anuga remarked. He must be given the opportunity to comply.”
Mr Ekwo inquired as to how long the court will wait for Mr Emefiele as the suit was filed in 2017.
“I have given you ample opportunity, but you are taking it for granted,” the judge remarked as he directed Mr Anuga to appear in court.