The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has filed his appeal against the ruling of a Federal High Court in Abuja, which compelled him to appear in a $53 million judgment debt suit.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the FHC had in his ruling last year summoned the CBN governor over his alleged refusal to obey the order of the court for the payment of the judgment debt in favour of a legal practitioner, Joe Agi (SAN).
Although the court had ordered Emefiele to appear before the court on January 18 (Wednesday), proceedings could not go on as scheduled when the matter was called, prompting the court to subsequently adjourned the case till March 20.
The judgment summons, now a subject of the appeal, was in respect of suit NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/1193/2017, between Joe Agi (SAN), against Linas International Ltd, the Minister of Finance and CBN.
However, Emefiele in his notice of appeal predicated on three grounds submitted that Justice Ekwo erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice when he made an order compelling his attendance in court for the $53 million debt.
The CBN governor told the appellate court that the appeals marked CA/A/476/2018 between CBN V Joe Agi (SAN), and two others and CA/A/23/2020 between CBN V Joe Agi (SAN) and two others which were appeals against the judgment sought to be enforced by the judgment summons had been entered before the Court of Appeal.
In the appeal filed on January 13, 2023, Emefiele through his lawyer, Damien Dodo (SAN), observed that the proceedings to compel his appearance after appeals had been entered, placed the trial court in a position where it is exercising concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Appeal over the same subject matter.
He also submitted that the trial judge erred in law which occasioned a miscarriage of justice when it compelled and ordered him to personally appear in court without determining one way or the other, his application challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
He, therefore, drew the attention of the appellate court to his application filed on January 27, 2020, challenging the jurisdiction of the court as well as the service of forms 13 and 15 on him for non-compliance with the mandatory provisions of section 56, part IV, of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act.
Emefiele submitted that on February 22, 2022, the appellants jointly filed an application seeking a setting aside of the issuance and service of forms 13 and 15 on him, on the basis that the same ought not to have been issued during the pendency of the two mentioned appeals and the pending motions on notice for a stay of execution dated March 26, 2018, and July 11, 2019, respectively.
The appellant further contended that the lower court erred in law occasioning a miscarriage of justice when it made an order compelling his appearance in court on January 18, 2023, when he is not a party to the suit before it.
He, therefore, prayed the appellate court to allow his appeal and set aside the orders made by the Federal High Court.
Meanwhile, controversy had surrounded the presence of a team of policemen at the Federal Capital Territory home of the CBN governor on Tuesday.
The armed police officers, numbering over 10, were seen by our correspondent around 8.40pm, Tuesday, at the Maitama, Abuja home of the embattled governor of the apex bank.
The Nigeria Police Force Headquarters and the Federal Capital Territory Police Command denied knowledge of the police presence.
However, police sources said the security team was there to ensure the CBN governor honoured Wednesday’s court appearance.
The Federal High Court in Abuja had summoned Emefiele over the $53m judgment debt arising from the Paris Club refund.
In an application for garnishee made on October 20, 2022, Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the CBN governor to appear on Wednesday, January 18, 2023, as the hearing date for the matter.
Prior to this, on January 23, 2020, the court ruled that Emefiele must appear “to be examined on oath touching the means you have or have had, since the date of the said garnishee order absolute, to pay the balance of $53m now due and payable under the said garnishee order absolute and also show cause why you should not be committed to prison for default in payment of the said sum.”
The suit stemmed from an alleged $70m judgment against Linas over the lawyer’s services in the Paris Club refund.
The CBN governor was said to have left an outstanding amount of $53m having only released $17m.
Commenting on the development, a lawyer, Deji Ajare, said the police could compel Emefiele to appear in court based on a court order.
“The police have the constitutional powers to arrest and bring a person to court. They can also enforce the order of the court compelling the appearance of a person or official in court,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Department of State Services reportedly grilled CBN deputy governors on Monday in connection with an audit.
Meanwhile, the battle between the CBN governor and the DSS over a plan to arrest him appeared to have been put on hold as Emefiele resumed duty on Monday.
He resumed at the central bank headquarters in Abuja after spending several weeks in the United Kingdom and the United States following reported plots by the DSS to arrest him.
In a statement by the CBN Director of Corporate Communications, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, the apex bank said the governor resumed work amid concerns over his absence since last month.
The DSS on Monday also denied invading the CBN head office in Abuja.
This followed reports in some media outlets (not The PUNCH) that the DSS had stormed the CBN headquarters to arrest the governor of the apex bank.
In a statement on Monday by the DSS Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya, the agency denied arresting Emefiele.
However, the development appeared to have put a temporary stop to the reported plot by the DSS to arrest the nation’s number one banker.
Emefiele, perhaps the most embattled and controversial CBN governor in the recent history of the country, left the country last month after the secret service agency approached an Abuja court for an order to arrest him over allegations bordering on financing terrorism and money laundering, among others.