ABUJA - Nigeria's High Court ordered the state security service on Thursday to release the country's detained and suspended central bank governor Godwin Emefiele or charge him within a week.
Emefiele was suspended by new President Bola Tinubu more than a month ago on June 9 and arrested a day later by the Department of State Security.
Papers filed by government lawyers showed that Emefiele is facing criminal charges including misappropriation of funds, meaning he could face long jail terms if convicted. But he has not been formally charged or appeared in court.
Emefiele and his lawyers have appealed against his detention but not made any public comment on the accusations.
"The applicant (Emefiele) should be charged (in) court within one week from the date of this ruling or he should be released," Judge Hamza Muazu said in a ruling on Thursday.
The judge said the offences, that also include criminal breach of trust, incitement of violence and economic sabotage, are bailable and that the security service investigation can not be endless.
President Tinubu ordered the suspension less than two weeks after coming into office. Soon after, the central bank lifted restrictions on foreign currency trading that had been introduced by Emefiele.
The removal of curbs, part of the new president's push to reform the central bank, delighted investors.
Nigeria's constitution says accused people cannot be detained for more than 48 hours without appearing in court.
Government lawyers have said they secured an order from the lower magistrate court to hold Emefiele longer as investigations continue.
Emefiele, appointed by former President Muhammadu Buhari for a second five-year term in 2019, was due to retire next year. Buhari had supported a strong currency which he viewed as a matter of national pride.
(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Andrew Heavens)