Mr Godwin Emefiele requested an order from a Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday prohibiting the Federal Government from replacing him as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) because of his presidential ambitions, pending the outcome of the substantive matter.
Emefiele, through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, also prayed Justice Ahmed Mohammed to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from taking any action against him in the bid to contest in the presidential primary by virtue of his office.
The CBN governor made the requests in an ex-parte application filed on May 9 by Ozekhome, asking for an injunction to maintain the status quo ante bellum pending the outcome of the substantive matter.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) is the second defendant in the complaint, according to the Nigerian News Agency (NAN). INEC is the first defendant.
Despite the fact that his client had not indicated which political party he would like to run for, Ozekhome argued that the application was required for the court to establish the legitimacy of his (Emefiele’s) choice.
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“The plaintiff is a current governor of CBN. He desires to run for the office of president of Nigeria in the election coming up in 2023.
“But he is in a dilemma whether he can run. Can he run? If he can run, when must he leave office as CBN governor?
“We want the interpretation of the law as it is today,” he said.
He argued that Emefiele, by virtue of Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution, is a public servant.
He said that only political appointees are caught with Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022, which he said had been struck down by a Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia in Abia.
According to him, the matter is currently on appeal and the Court of Appeal has not come up with a decision.
“Even if the Court of Appeal upturn that judgment, is the plaintiff a political appointee? Our answer is no,” he said.
He argued further that Emefiele is only bound by Section 137 which says that a public officer shall resign from office not later than 30 days before election.
“This is the constitution and we seek constitutional interpretation of this matter,” he said.
But in his ruling, Justice Mohammed did not grant the motion.
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Instead, he postponed the decision until May 12.
The judge issued an injunction for the INEC and AGF to explain why Emefiele’s prayers should not be granted by noon on Thursday.
He directed that all of the defendants be served with all of the petitions filed in the case, including the ex-parte.
He further ordered that the defendants be given hearing notices and that they present on that day to show cause why the prayers should not be granted.
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- Tijani Pepper is a news reporter at Panel News, and gistreportar. He is a passionate journalist in Politics, Sports development and investigative journalism.
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