No fewer than 60 legal practitioners on Monday approached a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory to begin committal proceedings against the Department of State Services over the continued detention of a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
The suit was hinged on what they described as violation of multiple judgments and orders of court to release Emefiele.
The lawyers, led by Maxwell Opara and Ahmed Tijani, prayed the court to commit the DSS to prison until the department clears itself of the contempt.
The lawyers filed a motion before the court for the issuance of Form 48 and Form 49, which are the forms used to commence proceedings to commit a contemnor to prison.
The lawyers said that by the judgments and orders of Justice M. A. Hassan, Justice Hamza Muazu and Justice Bello Kawu, the DSS Director-General, Yusuf Bichi, ought to have released Emefiele from detention.
In an affidavit in support of the application, the lawyers deposed to the fact Justice Hassan restrained the respondents, particularly the DSS, from arresting, detaining or interrogating Emefiele.
This was with regards to offences connected to terrorism financing, money laundering, round tripping and financial crimes of national security dimension.
They also deposed that despite the clear and positive orders of the court, the DSS went ahead to arrest and detain Emefiele and had detained him for over a month while shopping for evidence, which they said does not exist.
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Addressing newsmen after filing their processes, Opara said the group would pursue the matter to its logical conclusion and ensure that Bichi was sent to prison.
He said this was to serve as a deterrent to other heads of security agencies that disobedience of court orders would no longer be tolerated.
Opara also said it was preposterous that the DSS had accused Emefiele of having committed heinous crimes against the state only for it to now file a charge of possession of a validly registered pump action rifle against him.
He said: “Is it not clear enough to Nigerians that the DSS is persecuting Emefiele if after holding him for five weeks they can only file a ridiculous charge of possessing a validly registered pump action gun.
“This clearly shows that the travail of Emefiele is more for political reasons than for any other.”