Nigerian court sitting in the capital city of Abuja has dismissed central bank governor Godwin Emefiele’s request to remain in office until 30 days before the February 2023 presidential elections.
Emefiele’s suit, rejected on Monday, was seeking to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INE) and the attorney general from forcing him to resign from office to pursue his presidential ambition.
In his ruling, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed turned down the request and summoned INEC and the attorney general to appear before the court on May 12 to show cause on why a stay in office should not be granted to the governor.
The bank chief said he was not a political appointee but instead, a public servant.
According to a court filing signed May 6 and seen by Al Jazeera, Emefiele said he had brought the suit “to urgently challenge the attempt to disqualify and exclude him from participating in the parties’ presidential primaries”, being held later this month.
The filing added that Emefiele “would be barred from participating in the said parties’ presidential primaries” unless the court accelerated the hearing.
Emefiele “has [an] aspiration to seek election to the office of President” in the 2023 elections, the court filing also read.
Calls for Emefiele’s resignation had mounted over the weekend when the news broke that the 100 million naira (approximately $240,000) presidential nomination and expression of interest form of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party had been procured for the central bank chief.
Among those who called for Emefiele’s resignation was Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of the southwestern state of Ondo and former chair of the Nigerian Bar Association.
He asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the CBN governor if he refused to resign, saying: “This is a joke taken too far.”
“It is, however, difficult to imagine that a person who occupies the exalted and sensitive office of the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria will be this brazen in actu
alising his ambition,” said Akeredolu, who is in the APC and a senior attorney, on Friday.
“We admonish Mr Emefiele to leave the office immediately for him to pursue his interest. He cannot combine partisan politics with the very delicate assignment of his office,” he said.
At the weekend, Emefiele responded to news of forms being procured on his behalf, via multiple tweets from his verified Twitter account.
“I am humbled by the growing interest of those asking that I run for the office of president in the 2023 general elections: I have not come to that decision. However, should I answer their calls and decide to seek presidential nomination, I will use my own hard-earned savings to buy my own nomination forms.
“I will do so without proxies, in an open and transparent manner in full compliance with the laws and Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria. I will continue to serve and sacrifice for the good people of Nigeria under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari,” Emefiele said.
A clause in the Electoral Act requires political appointees to resign their positions 30 days before the party primaries. But cabinet members like Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi and Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, who are biding to succeed Buhari, have not resigned.
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