Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana on Tuesday said the Nigerian courts should stop granting ex-parte applications for the arrest and detention of any Nigerian without giving the person an opportunity to defend themself.
He spoke against the backdrop of the refusal of a Federal High Court in Abuja to grant the ex-parte application by the Department of State Service (DSS) for the arrest and detention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.
Emefiele in the application which the court rejected was accused of terrorism financing but the judge refused to grant the DSS’ application, saying the agency required the authority of President Muhammadu Buhari, Emefiele’s Principal, before going ahead with such a request.
Similarly, some civil society organisations (CSOs) have thrown their weight behind Emefiele, saying some highly influential Nigerians were behind the move against him ostensibly because of his policies on naira redesign and cash withdrawal limit which takes effect next month.
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Speaking on the raging issue on Channels TV’s Daily Politics, Falana congratulated the CBN Governor for escaping what he said many Nigerians were being subjected to on a daily basis through ex-parte orders from security agencies.
He however advised judges to stop granting any ex-parte order without giving the person concerned the benefit of defending himself.
The legal luminary also asked judges to treat cases of fundamental human rights before them with dispatch.
He said, “I want to congratulate Mr Godwin Emefiele for his temporary legal victory whereby the court refused to grant the application of DSS to arrest and detain him.
“He’s been lucky in the sense that on a daily basis, several ex-parte orders have been made in our courts authorizing the detention of people that I regard as the flotsam and the jetsam of the society.
“But in his own case, because of his social status, the court refused to grant the application. I, therefore, call on our judges to; number one, entertain and assign all fundamental human rights applications with dispatch because there is equality before the law.
“Two; on no ground should our courts order the arrest and detention of any citizen on the basis of an ex-parte application. I want to believe that our courts will now adopt the policies of saying, ‘Put the person you want me to detain on notice so that he can be given the opportunity to challenge the ex-parte application.’ I think we are drawing lessons from what is going on.”
Speaking further on the cash withdrawal policy, he said the policy can go on for now but after the 2023 election, the people in the rural areas should be given at least six months to open bank accounts.
He said, “We need to get our people in the rural area to embrace a cashless economy. For the purpose of election, I am not prepared to challenge the legality or otherwise of the action.”