ABUJA, Nigeria –
Nigeria’s suspended Central Bank governor appeared in court on Tuesday in the economic hub of Lagos on charges of illegal possession of a firearm and live ammunition.
Godwin Emefiele was suspended in early June by Nigeria’s new President Bola Tinubu and subsequently detained by Nigeria’s secret police. He was brought to the court in Lagos, carrying a Bible, and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The presiding judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Lagos, then granted him bail despite objections from the attorney general’s office. The case was adjourned until November and the start of Emefiele’s trial.
Emefiele’s appearance in court was his first in public since June 10, when he was detained by Nigeria’s secret police.
The secret police had filed two counts of illegal possession of a firearm and live ammunition against Emefiele. The charge was a far lesser offence than the alleged terrorism financing and economic crimes which the agency had accused him of last year. Both those charges carry long prison terms.
Nigeria’s new President Bola Tinubu removed Emefiele shortly after taking office and ordered an investigation. The governor was arrested a day later, on June 10, and has been in detention since. The detention prompted criticisms of the secret police and a legal tussle between the governor and the agency.
Abiola Gbemisola, a Lagos-based financial analyst, said the governor’s trial could negatively impact the Central Bank of Nigeria at a time when the country is looking to attract more foreign investors.
“He delved further into politics while he was in that office, showing his ambitions,” Gbemisola said of Emefiele, who was rumoured to have presidential ambitions in the leadup to Nigeria’s elections earlier this year, though he never declared interest in the position.