Court declines Emefiele’s request to restrain INEC, AGF from stopping his presidential ambition

An Abuja division of the Federal high court has refused to grant the request of the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney General of the Federation from preventing him from his presidential ambition.

On Monday, Emefiele’s counsel, Mike Ozekhome SAN asked the court for an order of status quo Ante Bellum to be made against INEC and the AGF to enable Mr Emefiele to not resign from office until 30 days to the general election.

Mr Emefiele argued that he is not a political appointee but a public servant.

He prayed the court to invoke section 318 of the 1999 Constitution to restrain the defendants from asking him to vacate office until 30 days to the February 2023 Presidential election.

Back story

  • Mr Emefiele instituted the suit via an ex-parte application challenging the attempt to disqualify and exclude him from participating in the party’s presidential primaries scheduled for May 30.
  • In an affidavit of urgency seen by Nairametrics, Mr Emefiele argued that he is not a political appointee and by the provision of the constitution, he is expected to resign a month before the presidential election.
  • He stated in the affidavit that he will suffer irreparable damage if the suit is not urgently determined as the party’s primaries come up in less than a month.

He sought among others the following reliefs.

  • “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 public officer seeking election into a political 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 plaintiffs political 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 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 (as amended).
  • “AN ORDER that the Plaintiff cannot be hindered, stopped or precluded 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.
  • “AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION 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 the president or any other office under the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (as amended).

What the judge ruled

In his ruling, Justice Ahmed Mohammed declined to grant the order but in turn, ordered him to put the defendants on notice and also serve court processes on the defendants.

The judge ordered AGF and INEC to appear before the court on May 12 and show cause why Mr Emefiele’s request should not be granted.

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