A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has described the case instituted by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, over the 2023 presidential election as “comedy” and an “insult to Nigerians”.
Emefiele, on Monday sought an order of a Federal High Court in Abuja restraining the Federal Government from removing him from office over his presidential ambition.
Emefiele, through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on Monday, also sought an order pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.
He also prayed Justice Ahmed Mohammed to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission from taking any action against him in the bid to contest the presidential primary by virtue of his office.
But Justice Mohammed did not grant the motion. Rather, he adjourned the matter until May 12 for a ruling.
In a statement titled, ‘The comedy of Emefiele’s case’, the senior lawyer faulted the CBN governor’s case.
He said, “By the decision of the Supreme Court in Akinlade vs INEC, there is no competent suit filed by Mr Emefiele pending before the court for adjudication.
“The affidavit in support of the Originating Summons and indeed the Affidavit of urgency were both deposed to by counsel on his behalf, in flagrant violation of Rule 20 of RPC.
“An Originating Summons cannot be determined in the Federal High Court without a competent affidavit in support thereof.
“By his status, Emefiele is an employee of the CBN. Any case to determine his status or eligibility should be filed at the National Industrial Court. So long as Emefiele earns a salary as a CBN employee, he should not dream of contesting elections while still holding on to his office. It is an insult to our collective psyche as a people.
“Sensitive election materials are always kept in CBN offices nationwide by INEC, unknown to Nigerians that Emefiele as Governor of CBN had been a politician all his life.
“The political party that owns the presidential ticket that Emefiele wants to grab is not a party in his court case, contrary to extant laws and practice.
“I urge the Nigerian Bar Association, Election Situation Room, SERAP and other civil society organizations to apply to the court to join EMEFIELE’S case and put an end to this joke.”
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.
While INEC is the 1st defendant, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) is the 2nd 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.
“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 the election.
“This is the constitution and we seek constitutional interpretation of this matter,” he said.
The judge made an order directing the INEC and AGF to appear on Thursday on why Emefiele’s prayers should not be granted.
He ordered that all the applications, including the ex-parte, filed in the course of the matter be served on all the defendants.
He also directed that hearing notices be issued to the defendants to appear on the said date to show cause why the prayers should not be granted.