CENTRAL Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele is facing the prospect of a two year jail term for contempt of court after he failed to honour a judgement mandating the federal government to pay a N182bn ($475.66m) fine to the Ogoni people of Rivers State.
Like most of Nigeria’s oil-producing communities, Ogoniland has suffered from the effects of pollution and the destruction of its environment. Seeking damages, Ogoni elders took the federal government and oil giant Shell Petroleum to court, where they secured a favourable judgement in which Nigeria was asked to pay the community N182bn.
However, with the federal government failing to honour the judgement, the Ogoni people represented by Chief Lucious Nwosu filed contempt charge praying the Federal High Court in Abuja commit Mr Emefiele to prison for disregarding an order of court. During sitting yesterday, Mr Nwosu expressed disgust over the absence of the CBN governor in court.
Mr Nwosu informed the trial judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo that the charge against Mr Emefiele is quasi-criminal in nature and warranted his physical presence of the CBN governor to answer the charge. However, Damian Dodo, counsel to Mr Emefiele, informed the court that it was not the habit of his client to underrate the court of law and assured that Mr Emefiele will do the needful at the appropriate time.
Justice Taiwo, after listening to arguments, adjourned the matter until January 26, 2021. he then directed that Mr Emefiele and all those involved in the matter should obey the court order during the next adjourned date.