The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emiefele has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that he can run for the post of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without vacating his position as the CBN Governor.
The CBN Governor through his Counsel, Mike Ozekhome, 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.
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.
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 suit adds another twist to the CBN governor’s presidential ambition. Last week, a group of supporters purchased the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential form for the CBN boss.
That move ended months of speculation that Emefiele was interested in Nigeria’s exalted position.
Following the development, several Nigerians including Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State. The governor asked Emefiele to resign his position and if he fails to do so, President Muhammadu Buhari should sack him.
“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.
In a series of tweets, he said he is yet to make a decision on running for the seat.
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.”
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, 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.
“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.”