BusinessDay

Why Emefiele wants to run for president without resigning

The inadequacy of the law, the ambiguity that it presents and the loopholes created by certain omissions have been cited by many legal practitioners in Nigeria as part of the reasons why Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), would want to run for president without first resigning from his position.

A major issue that has been raised is whether the CBN governor is to resign from his position before becoming a card-carrying member of any political party.

Another issue that has also sprung up is whether the governor of the CBN is a political appointee or a public servant.

As the body responsible for regulating the monetary policies in Nigeria and ensuring that the financial future of Nigeria is intact, there have been questions on the implications of this development as the integrity of the man in custody the monies of Nigeria is being called to question.

There have been divergent opinions on the issues, and legal analysts who spoke to BusinessDay have pointed out that the ambiguity and inadequacies in the laws has brought about these divergent interpretations of the law.

Speaking on the issues, a highly placed source in the legal industry, who asked not to be named because judicial interpretation on the matter is being sought, told BusinessDay that “it is necessary to draw the distinction as to whether the CBN governor is a political appointee or a public servant.”

The lawyer said: “If we come to the conclusion that the CBN governor is a member of the public service, then by virtue of a combined reading of Section 137 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 83 (4) of the Electoral Act 2022, he can resign at least 30 days before the general elections but if we find that he is a political appointee, the provisions of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 will apply to him.

“Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act states that no political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election. However, it must be noted that Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, as it stands today, has been declared null and void by a court of competent jurisdiction. The issues need to be made clear by the courts.”

Inibehe Effiong, a public interest and human rights lawyer and activist, said the CBN, “being the extant regulatory body responsible for the financial future and that determines the monetary policies of the country, is supposed to be politically neutral and not to be mixed with partisan politics”.

Read also: Nigeria’s top banker Emefiele in eye of the storm

“It is also the height of irresponsibility that a said governor of the CBN will come out to say that he intends to contest for the office of a President or contest in the primaries of a political party during the currency of his term as a CBN governor,” he said.

According to him, the CBN governor is a public servant, and under the code of conduct for public officers, a public officer is not supposed to do anything that conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.

Item 1 Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which provides for the Code of Conduct for Public Officers states that a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interests conflict with his duties and responsibilities.

“It is against the law and against morality that the governor should remain in office while he intends to run for the position of the President under the APC,” Effiong said.

According to the legal practitioners, the courts must promptly intervene to give a proper interpretation of the laws to guide the next actions.

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