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Nigeria’s Central Bank Chief, Emefiele Now Desperately Fighting To Save His Job, In Dilemma Over Presidential Ambition

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Indications have emerged that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emiefele, is now desperately fighting to save his job and his political future as he has taken a step further to assert his right to contest the 2023 presidential election while remaining in office as Nigeria’s central bank chief.

BIGPENNGR.COM reports that Emefiele entering into the race which had ruffled feathers and jostled earlier political birds in the race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, remained unprecedented in Nigerian budding politics as no serving central bank chief had made attempt to join a presidential contest.

Emefiele, who earlier last week disclosed that he was awaiting divine intervention to declare if he would run or not, had early Monday, ran to a Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking a declaration that he can run for the post of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without vacating his position as the CBN Governor.

Through his Counsel, Mike Ozekhome, he told the court that Section 84 ((12) of the Electoral Act as amended, 2022 does not affect him, being a public servant and not a political appointee.

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Arguing an exparte motion filed due to the urgency of the matter, Ozekhome said his client is the current CBN governor and he is interested in running for the office of the president of the country in the election scheduled for February next year.

According to the learned silk, Emiefele is in a dilemma if he can run and when must he leave his office before he can?

Ozekhome argued that the section of the Electoral Act has been voided by a Federal High Court in Umuahia and that the matter is on appeal at the moment.

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He also prayed the court for an order of interim injunction stopping further action on the matter.

The CBN Governor had taken the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), and three others before a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking enforcement of his right to contest the 2023 presidential election without resigning from his current position.

The court, however, deferred ruling and ordered him (CBN Governor) to put the defendants- INEC and AGF- on notice and also serve court processes on them.

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The Judge also ordered the defendants to appear before him on May 12 to show cause why the CBN Governor’s request should not be granted.

The suit has added another twist to the CBN governor’s presidential ambition as he had earlier last week rejected a presidential form purchased for him purportedly by three interest groups.

Apparently following backlashes which trailed the purchase of the governing party’s, All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential form for him, the Nigeria’s chief banker, had in a series of tweets, said he is yet to make a decision on running for the seat but if he eventually do so, he would use his hard-earned money to purchase the form.

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He said “should I answer their calls and decide to seek presidential nomination, I will use my own hard-earned savings from over 35 years of banking leadership to buy my own Nomination Forms without proxies in an open and transparent manner in full compliance with the laws and Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“And should I not run for elected office,  I will continue to serve and sacrifice for the good people of Nigeria under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is a serious decision that requires God’s divine intervention: in the next few days The Almighty will so direct.”

His response followed month-long speculation that he was interested in Nigeria’s exalted position. The development has generated flurry of reactions on social media with many Nigerians including Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, calling on him to resign his position and if he fails to do so, President Muhammadu Buhari should sack him.

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“He cannot combine partisan politics with the very delicate assignment of his office, ” Akeredolu said.

“Should he refuse to quit, it becomes incumbent on the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to remove him forthwith.”

Just hours after the Ondo leader’s comment, the CBN governor cleared the air over his presidential ambition.

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But a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, says Emefiele is not qualified to run for the office.

He hinged his argument on the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.

Falana in a statement he issued on Monday, according to a Channel’s TV report, maintained that “while Mr. Emefiele is awaiting divine intervention it is pertinent to point out that by virtue of the combined effect of section 9 of the CBN Act and Section 18 of the Banks and Financial institutions Act 2020 it is the Board of the CBN that is competent to permit him to engage in politics or any other vocation.

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“So far, the Board of the CBN has not authorised him to participate in the primary election of the ruling party. To that extent, he is disqualified from seeking any elective position in the primary election of any political party or in the general election.”

Emefiele’s prayer was part of the seven reliefs sought in the suit.

The reliefs include: “A DECLARATION that the Plaintiff can only be governed by or subject to the provisions of section 137(1) (g) and 318 of the Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered), which require a public officer seeking election into a political office to resign, withdraw or retire from his appointment at least 30 days to the presidential election, rather than by the provisions of section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 or the guidelines, rules, criteria, measures or conditions made by the plaintiffs political party or any political party,” read the court filing.

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“A DECLARATION that the Plaintiff can validly participate in the primary election of a political party and is entitled to vote and be voted for as candidate of any political party of his choice for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for the election to the office of President or any other office under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“AN ORDER that the Plaintiff cannot be hindered, stopped or precluded 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 President or any other office under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“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).”

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He also requested the court to determine: “Whether the provisions of section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022, which are consistent 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 competent court of jurisdiction can be relied upon by the defendants to disqualify the plaintiff from contesting election to the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or from contesting or participating in the parties’ primaries or convention or congress for the purpose of election to the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria scheduled for 25th February 2023”.

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