The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu to urgently consider moving sensitive election materials from the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) to a politically neutral location.
The human rights watch gave the piece of advice on its social media handle on Tuesday, citing ‘unlawful interference, following the involvement of the CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in partisan politics’.
INEC has had a tradition of keeping sensitive election materials at CBN’s branches nationwide for safe keeping ahead of conduct of any election by the Commission in Nigeria.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele through his Counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), had sued the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in court to stop his removal from office over the contentious Section 84(12) in the 1999 Constitution (as amended in 2022), that forbids any public officer including himself from contesting an election.
SERAP wrote: “We urge the Chairman of INEC Professor Mahmood Yakubu to urgently consider moving sensitive election materials from the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) to a politically neutral location, to remove the risks of unlawful interference, following the involvement of the CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in partisan politics.”.
Earlier on Tuesday, a human rights lawyer and activist, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), raised the alarm that the 2023 Presidential ambition of Emefiele is causing confusion Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Speaking on Channels Television Sunrise Programme on Tuesday,
Adegboruwa described the move by the CBN Governor as a ‘bad example’ to other public officers in Nigeria.
But the CBN Governor seems to have ignored calls for his resignation by pressure groups including the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), following reports that he has picked his nomination and Expression of Interest presidential forms at the APC national Secretariat.
Branded vehicles bearing Emefiele’s effigy and APC materials adore billboards in some Cities in Nigeria.
Yet the CBN Governor has not resign from his position.
He was recently reported to have said that he is still consulting ahead of APC party primary elections coming up soon.
But Adegboruwa said, “Emefiele’s interest is causing a lot of confusion in INEC. You know that CBN is where INEC keeps sensitive materials”.
“It is scandalous enough as far as Nigerians are concerned that there is a confirmation from his Ward in Delta State, that Mr. Emefiele is indeed a card carrying member of APC.
“This is not a conflict? Whether he indicates his interest physically to pick nomination form. Since the news broke out, he has not denied that he is not in that party. That is enough for him to leave that office”, he queried.
The human Rights lawyer emphasized that Emefiele’s interest to contest the election contravenes the CBN Act with a particular reference to Section 9 of the apex Bank’s Act, which forbids the CBN Governor from engaging in any kind of employment while in office.
He described the CBN Governor’s suit at the court as a game plan to stop President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly from sacking him, adding that the court suit filed on behalf of Emefiele was supposed to have been filed at the National Industrial Court to determine his status instead of the Federal High court.
Adegboruwa said, “The case that he has filed at the Federal High court, with all due respect is only meant to pull a wool over Nigerians because what Mr. Emefiele is doing at the Federal High court is to still retain his position in office.
“He is asking the court that status quo be maintained. In other words, he doesn’t want to be sacked because he knew that Nigerians are going to be outraged.
“He is stepping into the murky waters of politics while pretending to be regulating our financial sector. That is why he filed that case. It is not for the interpretation of Section 84(12) in the Constitution at all.
“What he is doing is to use that case to tie the hands of Mr. President and the Senate from asking him to leave office…And that is why we are demanding that political parties, INEC, National Assembly, CSOs, NBA, and others should go and join that case and kill it. This is a bad example for other public officers.
“If we say that the Governor of CBN should stand in office and pick a nomination form for a political party, that should extend to INEC Chairman. Therefore, the Chairman of INEC should also go and pick the form of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because he is a public officer. The Chief Justice of Nigeria should go and pick the nomination form of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)”,