The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, moved the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, accusing the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of scheming to disqualify him from contesting the 2023 presidential election.
In the action, Emefiele claims that INEC and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, are “making frantic attempts” to prevent him from participating in the presidential primaries, which he claims are set for May 30 and June.
As a result, he asked the court to order INEC and the AGF to maintain the status quo ante bellum (keep things as they are) and not force him to retire as CBN Governor until 30 days before the general elections.
In the meantime, he asked the court to stop the two defendants from taking any action that could force him out of office, awaiting the outcome of the lawsuit.
“My lord, the deadline for collecting the expression of interest form is Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
“The schedule for the political party congresses and conventions for the presidential election, which he is interested in, is set for May 30th.”
As a result, our motion requests that the court issue an order maintaining the status quo.
“Let my lord not allow anyone to do anything,” Ozekhome implored as he moved Emefiele’s ex-parte application, which was backed up by an affidavit of necessity.
Emefiele argued that because he is a public servant and not a political appointee, he is not covered by section 84 (12) of the new Electoral Act, and hence will not quit as CBN governor.
He asked the court to use section 318 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, to prevent the defendants from requesting his resignation until 30 days before the presidential election.
Meanwhile, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in a bench ruling on Monday, dismissed Emefiele’s ex-parte application and ordered him to serve the two defendants with all applicable proceedings in the case.
The defendants were directed to appear before Justice Mohammed on May 12 and show cause why the plaintiff’s pleas should not be granted.
Emefiele is requesting that the court declare that he can “validly participate in the primary election of any political party and is entitled to vote and be voted for as a candidate of any political party of his choice, for the purpose of nominating candidates for the election to the office of President or any other office under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.”
He wants the court to issue an order prohibiting the defendants from prohibiting him from “participating, voting, or being voted for at the congress or convention of any political party of his choice, for the purpose of nominating candidates for the office of President or any other office under the Constitution.”
Emiefele stated in his supporting affidavit, which was testified to by one Maliki Sylvanus, that he wishes to run for President of Nigeria and participate as a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections in 2023.
He is explicitly asking the court to determine, among other things:
“Whether the defendants can rely on the provisions of section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022, which are inconsistent with the provisions of section 137(1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which have been declared so by a court of competent jurisdiction, to disqualify the plaintiff from contesting or participating in any election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?”
He also wants the court to rule on whether, under section 84(3) of the Electoral Act of 2022, “a political party can impose any nomination qualification or disqualification criteria measure, conditions on any aspirant or candidate, including the Plaintiff herein, in its primaries or constitution, guidelines or rules for nomination of its candidates for election besides those criteria as prescribed under sec.
“Whether the plaintiff can be mandated and/or compelled to resign, withdraw, or retire his position as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria by the combined effect of section 84(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022, and section 137(1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which require a public officer to resign, withdraw, or retire from his employment at least 30 days before the date of the presidential election,”
The plaintiff also seeks the court to decide whether he can be considered a political appointee under section 84(12) of the Electoral Act of 2022 within the provisions of section 137(I) (g) and 318 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The plaintiff further called the court’s attention to a current judgment issued by the Federal High Court in Umuahia, which he said nullified section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act of 2022.