Court Threatens Emefiele’s Arrest Over $53m Paris Club Refund

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, threatened to issue a warrant for the arrest of the suspended Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, over his failure to appear in court to explain the circumstances surrounding an unpaid $53m legal fee arising from the Paris Club refund.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, who ordered Emefiele to appear on the next adjourned date, said he was minded to exercise restraint in the proceedings to allow the ex-CBN boss to explain himself.

The development occurred following an intervention by Emefiele’s counsel, Audu Anuga (SAN), praying the court to give his client another opportunity because they had been unable to reach him since the last order, directing him to appear in court.

Anuga told the court that Emefiele, who was suspended as CBN governor, had been in detention.

He said all efforts to reach him to communicate the directive of the court to him were unsuccessful.

It was reported that Justice Ekwo had October last year ordered the CBN governor to appear in court on January 18 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).

Agi had dragged Linas International Ltd., Minister of Finance, CBN, and Emefiele to court, following an application for garnishee he filed to recover the judgment debt.

However, the January 18 proceedings could not go on as scheduled when the matter was called, prompting the court to subsequently adjourned the case till March 20, before it was then fixed for June 6.

The e judge, had on June 6, ordered Emefiele to appear before it on July 19.

However, the suspended CBN Governor, who is currently in the custody of the Department of State Services, was absent from court.

Agi’s lawyer, Ayodele Arotiowa, was about to make a submission when Justice Ekwo asked Emefiele’s lawyer if he had complied with the order.

“We made an effort to see how we can communicate with the 4th respondent (Emefiele) but the 3rd respondent (CBN) was unable to communicate with 4th respondent.

“We rely only on public communication that the 4th respondent is incarcerated and have been unable to communicate with him,” Anuga responded.

However, Justice Ekwo expressed dissatisfaction over the delay in the suit, which commenced in 2017.

“I have given you enough opportunity but you are taking it for granted,” the judge said while directing Anuga to give a good reason why he should not issue a warrant for Emefiele’s arrest.

In response, the lawyer said, “My Lord, we are at the mercy of the court. There is an intervening event, as we have not had the privilege to see him.

“The last opportunity My Lord gave to the 4th respondent has not been communicated to him.

“I feel opportunity should be given so that this can be communicated.”

The judge, consequently, adjourned the matter till October 31.

It was gathered that the dispute stemmed from an alleged $70m judgment against Linas International Ltd. for the lawyer’s (Joe Agi) assistance with the Paris Club refund.

Emefiele was said to have only released $17m, leaving an unpaid balance of $53m.

The court had on January 23, 2020 ruled that Emefiele must appear “to be examined on oath.”

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