The Federal High Court in Abuja has given former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, till January 25 to appear in court to explain the circumstances surrounding the $53m judgment debt arising from the Paris Club refund.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a short ruling on Wednesday, gave Emefiele another opportunity to appear in court in person or he would issue a warrant for his arrest.
The development followed a plea by Emefiele’s counsel, Audu Anuga (SAN), that all efforts to ensure that his appearance in court had been unsuccessful as he was still in custody.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Joe Agi, had initiated a garnishee proceeding against the CBN for the purpose of recovering a judgment debt of $70m from Linas International Limited and the Minister of Finance.
According to a court document, Form 15 (Judgment Summons), following the garnishee order absolute, the CBN had paid Agi part of the $70m, leaving a balance of $53m.
Justice Ekwo had repeatedly ordered that Emefiele must appear before the court over the matter.
At the Wednesday proceedings, Emefiele’s lawyer, Anuga, informed the judge that he had on Monday filed an affidavit to show cause why an arrest warrant should not be issued against Emefiele.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that a legal officer in the Legal Department of the CBN, Jeremiah Utaan, in an affidavit in support of Emefiele’s case, informed the court that he was unable to appear as he had been in the custody of the Department of State Services since June 10.
“I verily believe that the cause of justice will not be served should the honourable court proceed to issue a warrant for the arrest of Godwin Emefiele,” he said.
The judge then asked the judgment creditor’s counsel, I.A. Nnana, if he had been served.
In response, Nnana said he was served on Monday but needed time to reply.
In reaction, Justice Ekwo said flouting of court orders would not be allowed and insisted that Emefiele must appear before him.
“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 not much talk.
“Orders 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.”
The judge then adjourned the matter until January 25 for Emefiele to show cause why an arrest warrant should not be issued against him.