A Federal High Court in Abuja has declined the request of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, from preventing him from pursuing his presidential ambition.
Emefiele on Monday, through his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), told the court in Abuja that he can run for the post of the President without vacating his position as the CBN governor.
Ozekhome told the court that Section 84 ((12) of the Electoral Act as amended, 2022 does not affect Emefiele, being a public servant and not a political appointee.
The court in its ruling, however, refused the request and summonsed INEC, and AGF to appear before it on May 12, to show cause on why status quo antebellum, should not be granted to the CBN Governor.
The CBN governor had headed to the court in Abuja to seek a constitutional interpretation on his non-resignation while pursuing his political interests.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the Chairman of Ward 6 in the Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State, Nduka Erikpume, said the CBN governor had registered as an All Progressives Congress member.
When asked whether Emefiele had registered in the APC, Erikpume said, “Yes, he has registered since February 2021. He is our member.”
Three interest groups – the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Friends of Emefiele and Emefiele Support Group – last week paid N100m for the APC presidential expression of interest and nominations forms for Emefiele.
But the CBN governor, in a tweet on Saturday, said he was still waiting for God’s direction, adding that he would purchase the N100m forms himself if he entered the presidential race.
According to Section 9 of the CBN Act, 2007, the apex bank governor must not venture into any other vocation while in office and must resign in writing to the President if he nursed such intention.
It read, “The Governor and the Deputy Governors shall devote the whole of their time to the service of the bank and while holding office shall not engage in any full or part-time employment or vocation whether remunerated or not except such personal or charitable causes as may be determined by the Board and which do not conflict with or detract from their full-time duties…”
Sixty-year-old Emefiele was appointed the CBN governor in 2014 and has since remained at the apex bank. Under him, the naira has wobbled against the dollar and now exchanges at N560/$1 from around N150/$1 when he came into office.
Like Emefiele, other government officials who failed to resign whilst pursuing presidential ambition in 2023 include Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, amongst others.
Malami has also reportedly expressed interest to contest the governorship seat of Kebbi State next year.
Both the Peoples Democratic Party and the APC presidential primaries have been scheduled for the end of May while Nigerians watch with rapt keenness as the two prominent parties elect their flagbearers at their conventions in four weeks’ time.