From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The ripples caused by the purported presidential bid of Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is not about to subside as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed plans to review its long-standing relationship with the apex bank.
The commission usually lodge all sensitive elections material in the offices of the apex bank across the country.
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This is as former CBN deputy governor and presidential aspirant of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Prof. Kingsley Maghalu, described Emefiele’s involvement in politics as a massive breach of rule of law.
Many analyst are of the opinion that his involvement in partisan politics can no longer guarantee the integrity of sensitive materials while others have called for his resignation or outright sack.
For several weeks Emefiele had denied rumours that he would be contesting in the 2023 general elections. Despite the rebuttals, last week, three interest groups, the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), “Friends of Emefiele” and “Emefiele Support Group” had purchased the All Progressives Congress (APC) Nomination and Expression of Interest forms valued N100 million on his behalf.
But reacting through his verified twitter handle, Emefiele had disowned the group, insisting that should he decide to contest for the political office, he would prefer to use his personal resources.
“I am humbled by the growing interest of those asking that I run for the office of president in the 2023 general elections: I have not come to that decision.
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“I note and salute the sacrifices of those farmers and patriots going as far as raising personal funds and offering me presidential nomination forms: I thank them most profusely. However, should I answer their calls and decide to seek presidential nomination, I will use my own hard earned savings to buy my own nomination forms.
“I will do so without proxies, in an open and transparent manner in full compliance with the laws and Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said.
He said he would continue to serve the country in his capacity as CBN governor until he received divine counsel to contest for a higher office.
But in a swift, he filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order to restrain the Federal Government from removing him from office over his presidential ambition.
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Through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, on Monday, he sought for the order pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter even as he prayed Justice Ahmed Mohammed to stop 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 prayers in an ex-parte motion dated and filed on May 9 by Ozekhome, seeking an order of maintenance of status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit. INEC is the first defendant, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) is the second defendant in the suit. Moving the motion, Ozekhome said though his client had not told him under which political party he would love to contest, the application became necessary in order for the court to determine the constitutionality of his (Emefiele’s) decision.
In his first reaction, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, in a statement by the commission’s spokesperson, Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the commission would soon take a decision on the matter if Emefiele eventually joins the 2023 presidential race.
Yakubu, however, disclosed that the electoral agency might move its sensitive materials, which were being kept in the custody of CBN, if Emefiele formally declares his bid to vie for the number one seat.
The statement read: “The strategic partnership between the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Independent National Electoral Commission, which enables the commission to store its sensitive election materials with the CBN, has been in place for many years and is beneficial in several ways.
“Indeed, there have been various reports that the CBN governor is nursing an intention to run for the office of President. But, he is yet to formally declare his intention to run for the office of the president as of today.
“However, if and when he eventually does, the commission will look at the implications and take a decision on what becomes of the long-standing strategic partnership with the CBN.”
But Maghalu, while picking his expression of interest form at the ADC Secretariat in Abuja, maintaied that Section 9 of the CBN Act makes it clear that the governor and the deputy governor are not allowed to engage in any other employment or vocation.
“Section 9 of the CBN makes it clear that the governor and the deputy governor are not allowed to engage in any other employment or vocation. A vocation is something that could take up your time, it may not be a job, it may not be something you could put your hands on, but once your mind is there but for the CBN Governor, his heart and mind is in politics up to the extent of going to a law court to support his ambition.
“First of all, I want to say Nigerians have no business in rewarding this massive breach of the rule of law because the action of the CBN governor shows a contempt of the rule of law. And the individual has been incompetent and Nigerians should not promote incompetently.
“Inflation is a very serious issue. If you have high inflation in a sustained manner the way we have it. It is a performance failure of the CBN because the President does not manage inflation, statutorily it is the function of the CBN. And under the CBN act, CBN is supposed to be independent. When I was the deputy governor of CBN in 2009/ 2014. There is a monitoring committee that ensures that prices of things are stable. We were able to bring inflation from double digit down to 8 percent before we left office. Now inflation is around 16 percent.