Court Charges CBN Governor for Contempt of Court

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Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor
Emefiele

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Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria is to appear in Federal High Court in Lagos, on November 19, to answer charges of contempt of court

Justice Mohammed Yunusa of a Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to appear before him on November 19, to answer to charges of contempt of court.

The judge had earlier on October 2, 2015 ordered the service of Form 48, Notice of Consequence of Disobedience to Order of Court, on Emefiele and two other directors of the CBN, A.O. Ogundana and  Dipo Fatokun.

The order to serve Emefiele, Ogundana and Fatokun with Form 48 followed an allegation by Ecobank Nigeria Limited that Emefiele and others had been flouting a court order made on July 1, 2015 despite being duly served since July 16, 2015.

Ecobank had alleged that Emefiele, Ogundana and Fatokun were frustrating its move to recover a huge debt allegedly owed it by an oil marketing firm, First Deepwater Discovery Limited.

The said order, which was allegedly disobeyed, mandated the CBN to redeem a Sovereign Debt Note issued in favour of Ecobank by the Debt Management Office in respect of fuel subsidy claims accruable to First Deepwater, being kept in the custody of the CBN.

But the bank claimed that it had been hamstrung by the alleged refusal of Emefiele and others to obey the order.

At the Tuesday’s proceedings, Ahmed Raji (SAN), counsel for CBN,  however, said the Form 48 had not been served on Emefiele, Ogundana and Fatokun, in any manner ordered by the judge.

Raji urged the court not to entertain the contempt proceedings yet because there was still contention on the propriety of service. He urged the court to rather hear his application seeking to vacate the said order which Ecobank claimed that CBN had refused to obey.

“Service is very important, even in civil matter, not to talk of a quasi-criminal matter. Service is cardinal and fundamental that when you have a motion complaining about service, that is a threshold that must be thrashed before further proceedings,” Raji said.

But Kunle Ogunba (SAN), counsel for the bank, said what was important was that Emefiele and others knew about the contempt case, irrespective of how they knew. He also noted that despite being aware of the contempt case, Emefiele and others did not appear in court. He urged the judge to enforce his order in order to preserve the integrity of the court.

“The parties who were cited have not appeared before this court and they cannot do so by proxy.

The business of the court is a serious business, otherwise, it would come to a situation where the court would make an order and it would not be obeyed. I submit that the business of the court today is solely to hear from the alleged contemnors why further steps should not be taken in these proceedings against them,” Ogunba said.

In a bench ruling, Yunusa said an order of court was bound to be obeyed whether rightly or wrongly made. He said as ministers in the temper of justice, lawyers had the duty to advise their clients to always obey court orders.

The judge therefore adjourned till November 19, 2015 for Emefiele, Ogundana and Fatokun to appear in court.

Culled from PUNCH/Tori Today

— October 21, 2015 @  7:00 GMT

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