Emefiele Withdraws Suit on Participation in 2023 Presidential Poll

Alex Enumah

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday withdrew his suit seeking the determination of his right to participate in the 2023 presidential election.

Emefiele had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to the Federal High Court in Abuja, over fears that the two defendants were likely going to prevent him from participating in the processes leading to the 2023 presidential poll based on Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022, which barred political appointees except they resigned from office 30 days to the congresses and conventions of political parties.

The withdrawal may not be unconnected with his withdrawal last week from the race after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Three interest groups had picked the presidential nomination form of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Emefiele. Representatives of a coalition of three groups — rice farmers, Emefiele Support Group and Friends of Godwin Emefiele —  had picked the form for the CBN governor at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Abuja.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court had on May 12, adjourned to Monday 23, 2022, for all parties to adopt their written addresses as their argument in the matter. Before the adjournment, the court had joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and others who had sought permission from the court to be joined as interested parties in the matter.

 The court had similarly ordered an accelerated hearing in the suit because of time constraints, since time tables released by various political parties had shown that the presidential primaries for the selection of their standard bearers had been fixed for between May 28 and 31.

 However, when the matter came up yesterday, Emefiele’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, announced that his client had directed him to withdraw the sought and accordingly applied for the same.

Responding, the lawyers of the defendants urged the court to dismiss the suit with huge cost against the plaintiff.

However, in a short ruling, Justice Mohammed struck out the suit and ordered that the parties bear their cost.

Before last Thursday’s proceeding, the court had summoned INEC and AGF to appear before it to explain why the court should not restrain them from preventing the CBN Governor from realising his political ambition by participating in all the processes leading to the 2023 presidential election.

The summoning of INEC and AGF was sequel to a motion exparte argued by Ozekhome, seeking to restrain the two defendants from taking any step that would jeopardise the interest of his client. But in his ruling, Justice Mohammed had ordered the CBN Governor to serve all court processes in relation to the suit on 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.

Then, when the matter came up for INEC and AGF to show cause, two lawyers stood up to announce appearances for their clients.

First was a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Sebastiane Hon, who informed the court of the intention of his client, the PDP to join as an interested party, which was immediately followed by one John Martins and Olukunle Ebun, who told the court that they were suing for themselves and on behalf of the ‘Save Nigeria our Fatherland’.

Emefiele had, amongst others, approached the Federal High Court for an order restraining the defendants from preventing or hindering his participation in the process of the presidential election slated for February next year.

He had expressed fear that any political party he chooses to affiliate with in pursuit of his political ambition may disqualify him based on the provisions of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022, which had barred political appointees from participating in the congresses and conventions of political parties unless the resigned 30 days to such conventions and congresses.

 Specifically, he had argued that by virtue of being a public servant, he cannot be barred from participating in the political primaries of political parties by Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022.

He had also submitted that Constitutional provisions stipulated that he could only resign his appointment as Governor of CBN 30 days before the presidential election which he is interested in contesting.

Amongst the processes, he had filed before the court was an application for the maintenance of status, which he predicated on the fact that he would be prejudiced against or hurt if the court does not restrain the defendants from taking any step that would jeopardize his desire to contest the presidential election.

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