The Nigerian Bar Association and civil rights groups on Monday warned that Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele’s involvement in politics was threatening the 2023 elections.
They also said his membership of the All Progressives Congress had eroded the credibility of the apex bank, where sensitive materials are kept, during elections.
Prominent Nigerians who spoke separately condemned Emefiele’s APC membership and his failure to resign while allegedly plotting to contest the 2023 presidency.
But the Independent National Electoral Commission, in a statement by Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to its Chairman, said it had taken notice of the latest revelation on Emefiele.
It added that it might move ballot papers from the CBN vaults.
The Chairman of the APC Ward 6 of the Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State, Mr. Nduka Erikpume, had on Sunday confirmed Emefiele’s membership of the ruling party, saying the CBN governor registered as far back as February 2021.
Three support groups had last week bought APC N100m presidential nomination and expression of interest forms for the CBN governor.
A source, on Sunday, said Emefiele would on Monday (yesterday), at a Federal High Court in Abuja seek a constitutional interpretation on his continuous stay in office amidst his presidential ambition.
In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/610/2022 and filed on May 5, the CBN governor asked the court to declare that he could participate in any political party’s presidential primary poll and could only resign 30 days to the election.
In the suit filed by his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, and has INEC and the Attorney General of the Federation as plaintiffs, Emefiele argued that he was free from section 84(12) of the new electoral act because he is a public servant and not a political appointee.
He is also seeking “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their agents, servants or privies or any legal representative from hindering, stopping or precluding the Plaintiff from participating, voting or being voted for at the congress or convention of any political party of his choice for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for the election to the office of the president or any other office under the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (as amended).”
The court on Monday refused the plaintiff’s request but summoned INEC and the AGF to appear before it on May 12 to show cause why the CBN governor’s demands should not be granted.
Currently, the National Assembly and the Peoples Democratic Party have appealed the judgment of a Federal High Court in Owerri, which ordered the removal of Section 84 (12) from the new electoral Act.
Shortly after Emefiele went to court and his membership in the APC came to the fore, INEC disclosed that it was reviewing its relationship with the CBN.
Emefiele: INEC reviews partnership with CBN, may move ballot papers from the apex bank
The Chief Press Secretary to INEC chairman, Oyekanmi, in the statement he issued in Abuja, stated that the commission would take action concerning sensitive materials which were being kept in the custody of CBN during elections.
He was reacting to the observation made by some critics including a human rights lawyer, Ebun-Oluwa Adegboruwa, on the implication of Emefiele’s ambition.
Adegboruwa had in a statement titled: ‘The comedy of Emefiele’s case’, raised the alarm over the safety of INEC materials in CBN vaults.
Oyekanmi said, “The strategic partnership between the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Independent National Electoral Commission which enables the commission to store its sensitive election materials with the CBN, has been in place for many years and beneficial in several ways.
“Indeed, there have been various reports that the CBN governor is nursing an intention to run for the office of President. But, he has yet to formally declare his intention to run for the office of president as of today.
“However, if and when he eventually does, the commission will look at the implications and take a decision on what becomes of the long-standing strategic partnership with the CBN.”
Adegboruwa said, “By the decision of the Supreme Court in Akinlade v INEC, there is no competent suit filed by Mr. Emefiele pending before the court for adjudication.
“The affidavit in support of the originating summons and indeed the affidavit of urgency were both deposed to by counsel on his behalf, in flagrant violation of Rule 20 of RPC.
“An originating summons cannot be determined in the Federal High Court without a competent affidavit in support thereof.
“By his status, Emefiele is an employee of the CBN. Any case to determine his status or eligibility should be filed at the National Industrial Court. So long as Emefiele earns a salary as a CBN employee, he should not dream of contesting the election while still holding on to his office. It is an insult to our collective psyche as a people.
“Sensitive election materials are always kept in CBN offices nationwide by INEC, unknown to Nigerians that Emefiele as Governor of CBN had been a politician all his life.
“The political party that owns the presidential ticket that Emefiele wants to grab is not a party in his court case, contrary to extant laws and practice.”