A Federal High Court in Abuja has given former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, until Jan. 25 to appear in court to explain circumstances surrounding the 53 million dollar-judgment debt arising from the Pars Club refund.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a short ruling on Tuesday, gave Emefiele another opportunity to appear in court in person or an arrest warrant issued against the ex-CBN governor.
The development followed a plea by Emefiele and CBN’s counsel, Audu Anuga, SAN, that all efforts to ensure that his client appeared in person on the order of the court were unsuccessful as he was still in custody.
Anuga informed the court that an affidavit to show cause on why an arrest warrant should not be issued against Emefiele was filed on Oct. 30.
Justice Ekwo then asked I.A. Nnana, the lawyer who represented Mr Joe Agi, SAN, the judgment creditor/applicant in the suit, if he had been served with the affidavit
Nnana responded that they were served on Monday, almost at the close of work and that they would like to react.
The judge, who cautioned Anuga against late filing of processes, reminded that the matter came up on July 19.
The senior lawyer, however, explained that all efforts were made until Friday (Oct. 27) to ensure that Emefiele was released on order of the court but the order was not complied with, which necessitated the filing of the affidavit.
Anuga, however, told the court that since parties had been exploring settlement before and the CBN had a new governor, they should be allowed to explore settlement options.
But Justice Ekwo insisted that Emefiele must appear in the next adjourned day.
“As for the 4th respondent (Emefiele), I have always said, contempt proceedings follow a person whether the person Is still there or not.
“In this case, I have given this particular person so much liberty, so much leniency and the situation does not seem to change.
“I will adjourn the matter because the other side says they want to react to the process so there is no much talk.
“Order of court must be complied with and even if no one complies with the order of the court, the court must comply with its order.
“I will give you sufficient time,” he said.
The judge, consequently, adjourned the matter until Jan. 25 for Emefiele to show cause why an arrest warrant should not be issued against him.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in the affidavit deposed to on Emefiele’s behalf by Jeremiah Utaan, a legal officer in the Legal Department of CBN, he said Emefiele was willing to appear before the court as directed but for his continued detention by the Department of State Service (DSS).
He said the information was of public knowledge from June 10 till date, saying that had made it impossible for Emefiele to physically appear before the court on July 19, the last adjourned date.
Utaan, in the affidavit, averred that Emefiele’s absence at the proceedings was not out of disrespect to the court but rather due to circumstances beyond his control.
The judge had, on July 19, threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against Emefiele over his failure to appear in court.
He said he was minded to exercise restraint in the proceeding to give the ex-CBN boss an opportunity to explain himself. (NAN)