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Court rejects Emefiele’s request to stop INEC from disqualifying him from election

By Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
09 May 2022   |   12:37 pm
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Attorney-General of the Federation to appear before it on May 12 to explain why the Central Bank Governor(CBN), Godwin Emefiele, should be disqualified from running for President in 2023. Rumours that Emefiele is willing to join partisan politics have been…

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Attorney-General of the Federation to appear before it on May 12 to explain why the Central Bank Governor(CBN), Godwin Emefiele, should be disqualified from running for President in 2023.

Rumours that Emefiele is willing to join partisan politics have been making the rounds for months.  Emefiele’s campaign posters were ubiquitous at the venue of the ruling party’s national convention in March.

The rumours were further enlivened after a video showing several cars branded with ‘Emefiele for President’ went viral on social media.

The CBN governor first publicly addressed the rumours on March 28 without debunking or confirming them. His tweets on Saturday also did little to dispel those rumours.

Emefiele’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), applied for an order of status quo ante bellum to be made against INEC and AGF so that the CBN governor would not be made to resign from office until 30 days to the general election.

In an ex-parte application argued on Monday, Emefiele denied being a political appointee but a Public servant not caught by section 84 (12) of the new Electoral Act 2022.

The CBN governor asked the court to invoke section 318 of the 1999 Constitution to bar the defendants from asking him to vacate office until 30 days before the February 2023 Presidential election.

Emefiele expressed apprehension that sale and submission of the presidential nomination form would expire on Wednesday and that unless the INEC and AGF are ordered to maintain status ante bellum as at May 5 when he filed the suit, he would be made to vacate office before his form would be accepted by the appropriate authority.

However, in a brief ruling, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed turned down the request for the order.

Instead, the judge ordered him to put the defendants on notice and also serve court processes on the defendants.

Justice Mohammed ordered the defendants to appear before him on May 12 and show cause on why the request should not be granted.

In the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/610/2022 instituted on his behalf by a Constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, has sought the following reliefs:

“A DECLARATION that the provisions of section 84(1.2) of the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended), which are inconsistent with the provisions of section 137(1)(9) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered) which and have been declared so by a court of competent jurisdiction cannot be relied upon by the Defendants to disqualify the plaintiff from contesting an election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or horn contesting or participating in the parties’ primaries, or other convention or congress for election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, scheduled for 25 February 2023.

” A DECLARATION that by the provisions of section 84(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022, a political party cannot by its constitution, guidelines or rules impose any criteria, measures or conditions nomination qualification or disqualification criteria, any aspirant or candidate including the plaintiff herein in its primaries during its convention or congress for the nomination of Its candidates for election besides these criteria as prescribed under sections 65,66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 177 and 187 of the Constitution of Om Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“A DECLARATION that by the combined provisions of section 84(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022, and section 137(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended) which require a public officer to resign, withdraw or retire from his employment at least 30 days before the presidential election„the Plaintiff cannot be mandated and/or compelled to resign his position as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria earlier than thirty (30) days to the presidential election or the primaries at congresses and conventions of the political parties which presidential election 6 scheduled to take place on 25th February, 2023; while the primaries are fixed for the 30th May and 1st June, 2022.

” 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 pubic officer seeking election into a paid.’ 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 plaintiff’s Whim; party or any political party.

“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 a 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 .”

The plaintiff have also in the originating summon prayed an order of the court that,” Plaintiff cannot be hindered, stopped or precluded from participating, voting or being voted for at the congress or prevention 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.

” 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 president or any other office under the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.”

The defendant in the suits are the independent electoral commission and the attorney general of the Federation.

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