Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has commended Justice John Tsoho for the speedy determination of the suit filed by the Department of State Service (DSS) against the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
In an article made available to Journalists, Falana wrote: “The State Security Service filed an application ex parte on December 7, 2022, praying for the arrest and detention of Godwin Emefiele for the purpose of investigating him in respect of the allegation of terrorism financing. Within two days, the Chief of the Court, the Honourable Justice John Tsoho assigned the case to himself and heard it. As no sufficient evidence was adduced by the SSS, the Chief Judge struck out the motion.
“However, his Lordship rightly pointed out that an order of the court is not required to arrest and detain Emefiele if there is reasonable suspicion that he has committed the grave offence alleged against him.”
He argued that the position of the Chief Judge was unassailable, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case.
He further wrote: “His Lordship deserves commendation for assigning and determining the case so swiftly. That is how it should be in matters of civil liberties for the law says so. But Emefiele’s personal liberty was not tampered with because of his special status. It is common knowledge that on a daily basis, several ex parte applications are granted in favour of the SSS, police and other law enforcement agencies to authorise the detention of the flotsam and jetsam of the society.
“For instance, on August 5, 2019, the SSS arrested Mr Omoyele Sowore in Lagos and took him to Abuja where he was detained incommunicado. Three days later, the SSS applied to the Federal High Court for an order ex parte to detain and investigate him for terrorism. The case was assigned to Justice Taiwo Taiwo (now retd). In granting the application, his Lordship ordered that Sowore be detained for 45 days to enable the sss to carry out the investigation.”
Falana also speaking on the raging issue on Channels TV’s Daily Politics, congratulated the CBN Governor for escaping what he said many Nigerians were being subjected to on a daily basis through ex-parte orders from security agencies.
He however advised judges to stop granting any ex-parte order without giving the person concerned the benefit of defending himself.
The legal luminary also asked judges to treat cases of fundamental human rights before them with dispatch.
“I want to congratulate Mr Godwin Emefiele for his temporary legal victory whereby the court refused to grant the application of DSS to arrest and detain him. He’s been lucky in the sense that on a daily basis, several ex-parte orders have been made in our courts authorising the detention of people that I regard as the flotsam and the jetsam of society.
“But in his own case, because of his social status, the court refused to grant the application. I, therefore, call on our judges to; number one, entertain and assign all fundamental human rights applications with dispatch because there is equality before the law.
“Two; on no ground should our courts order the arrest and detention of any citizen on the basis of an ex-parte application. I want to believe that our courts will now adopt the policies of saying, ‘Put the person you want me to detain on notice so that he can be given the opportunity to challenge the ex-parte application.’ I think we are drawing lessons from what is going on,” he said