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Godwin Emefiele’s perfidy – Part 2

By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa
31 May 2022   |   2:58 am
Let us compare Emefiele with Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia of the Catholic Church, who left the ecclesiastical temple to join the Governorship race in Benue State

Godwin Emefiele. Photo/facebook/cenbankng

Continued from yesterday

Let us compare Emefiele with Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia of the Catholic Church, who left the ecclesiastical temple to join the Governorship race in Benue State. He was promptly suspended by the authorities of the church.

“The mother church does not allow her clerics to get involved in partisan politics on their own – Ex can. 285,3 CIC … Therefore, to respond to the spiritual and pastoral needs of the church in the Catholic Diocese of Gboko, I have suspended him from the exercise of the sacred ministry.”

This is how it should be for Emefiele and it is the reason why the Constitution in section 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers bars them from putting themselves in positions where their personal interests conflict with their public duties and responsibilities. It is public knowledge that many politicians are heavily indebted to many banks either through their business or political engagements.

How will Emefiele regulate the affairs of his fellow politicians who are customers of various banks and also his bosses in politics? Who will help tame Emefiele, who has sworn to give his employers heart attacks with endless surprises? It would seem that this is another of the series of dramas that has become a lot of this administration, which has perfected the ignoble style of creating new scandals to bury old ones. Do we say that there is no one in charge of the affairs of Nigeria, for a public officer to dare throw mud upon the sacred temple of justice, abusing the processes of the court at random and with reckless abandon?

Sensing the wrath of the people of Nigeria, Emefiele rushed to the Federal High Court in a bid to use its processes to preserve his job and to tie the hands of Nigerians from sacking him. In a suit where he was seeking the interpretation of constitutional provisions relating to political issues, he carefully left out the political parties. Whilst that case was still pending in Abuja, another suit surfaced before the Delta State High, wherein the hands of Emefiele’s employers were being tied through the proverbial voice of Jacob and the hands of Esau. Coming after the National Judicial Council had released its Practice Direction governing pre-election cases, it would not take long for that latter case to suffer disgrace when it was sent back to the Chief Judge for appropriate sanctions. And I can bet that we have not heard the last of Emefiele’s political ambitions. 

All cannot be quiet so long as Emefiele continues to hold sway as the number one banker in Nigeria and a registered member of a political party. By failing to disclose his political interest, he has stained the integrity and autonomy of the apex bank. The laws regulating Emefiele’s office empowers him to apply to the court to freeze the bank account of any individual, which power he wantonly abused to persecute the leaders of the EndSARS movement and indeed many other Nigerians. Emefiele is at liberty to sack the management of any bank in Nigeria, to grant or revoke the licence of any bank and to generally determine the economic fortunes of Nigeria. Why would such a person be involved in partisan politics? The President needs to act promptly and swiftly to show Emefiele the way out of CBN, as was done to Father Alia by the Catholic Church. Nothing else can assuage our collective embarrassment on the desecration of the hallowed office of the CBN Governor by Emefiele other than to relieve him of his office so that he can have all the time in the world to pursue his political ambition.

In a demonstration of the faith Nigerians have in the CBN, the Independent National Electoral Commission chose the apex bank to warehouse its sensitive election materials, believing that the CBN vault would guarantee their sanctity, unknown to INEC that the man at the head of the bank had always nurtured a political ambition. Let me paint a scenario. Assuming Emefiele is allowed to pursue his inordinate ambition to become the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 presidential election. All he needs to do to frustrate his opponents is to ensure that the keys of the CBN branches in certain States where the opposition is strong are withheld or that the relevant staff in charge do not show up in time to give out election materials, thus effectively disenfranchising the supporters of his opponents. And there are other things he can still do to cause confusion or disharmony. Emefiele should not have remained a day longer in office the moment it was revealed that he had registered with the APC in Delta State.

The President needs to act swiftly on Emefiele or else the impunity will embolden some other public officers holding very sensitive positions to equally toy with their official responsibilities to enable them to pursue their political ambitions. It is good to seek public office through the election, as that in itself should be a test of acceptance by the voting public. However, the combination of law, morality, ethics and the rule of transparency demand that Emefiele should be relieved of his position without further ado. As the ultimate regulator of human affairs after God, it is distasteful that the government in power has shown itself reluctant to follow the path of honour in the same way that the Catholic Church has admirably called its politician-priest to order. When one sows to the wind, he should without fail reap the whirlwind. In delaying booting out Emefiele to stop him from further polluting the national economy, it is the President that is giving Nigerians the shock and heart attack that Emefiele mocked us with. It is a dangerous signal for an outgoing regime.

Adegboruwa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).