CBN Governor, Emefiele not qualified to contest 2023 election says Falana
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Renowned Human Rights Activist, Femi Falana had faulted recent moves by a group of Farmers who purchased the Nomination and Expression of interest forms for the APC Presidential primary on behalf of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
Falana says the Delta born, Godwin Emefiele as the Governor of Nigeria’s apex bank is disqualified from active participation in politics as he is precluded by the provisions of the CBN Act and the Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 2020.
In the past few days, many arrows have been shot at Emefiele’s ambition with many accusing the CBN Governor of bringing down the financial reputation of the CBN in the comity of nations
In his argument made available to TheNigeriaLawyer The Nigeria Lawyer monitored by Irohinoodua, Falana said Emefiele’s supporters whilst jubilating and mobilizng support ignored the provisions of section 9 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act which provides that : “The Governor and the Deputy Governors shall devote the whole of their time to the service of the Bank and while holding office shall not engage in any full or part time employment or vocation whether remunerated or not except such personal or charitable causes as may be determined by the Board and which do not conflict with or detract from their full time duties.” The provisions of section 18 (4) (b) of the Banks and are in pari materia with Section 9 of the CBN Act.
He further argued that the powers and responsibilities statutorily conferred on the Governor are enormous and more importantly in National interest and can therefore not be entrusted with a politically exposed person. He said the CBN Governor’s involvement in politics will compromise the sacred autonomy of the apex bank.
He said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the powers conferred on the Governor and the Board of the CBN under the CBN Act are enormous. They include the power to ensure monetary and price stability; issue legal tender currency in Nigeria; maintain external reserves to safeguard the international value of the legal tender currency; promote a sound financial system in Nigeria; and act as Banker and provide economic and financial advice to the Federal Government. In addition, the Banks and Financial institutions Act 2020 has empowered the Governor and CBN grant and revoke licences of banks; supervise banks, dissolve Boards and Management of Banks, remove Managing Directors and other directors of Banks, sanction erring banks and officials, make rules that guide commercial banks, provide loan to Governments, set interest rates, serve as apex bank to other banks and ensure cordial relationship with foreign banks. Furthermore, the Minister of Finance shall seek inputs from the CBN in preparing the Medium Term Expenditure Framework for the annual budget pursuant to the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.
The performance of these statutory functions which shall be in the national interest cannot be left in the hands of a politically exposed person. Hence, the Central Bank Act and Banks and Financial institutions Act provide that the bank shall be a fully autonomous body with the objective of promoting stability and continuity in economic management. Therefore, the involvement of the Governor in partisan politics will compromise the autonomy of the CBN.”
He criticised the action of the CBN Chief and traced his political involvement and partiality way back to 2020 citing the EndSARS protest when the CBN allegedly took steps to freeze the accounts of perceived leaders of the protest. A move which he described as an attempt to save the Buhari-led APC administration from the embarrassment following its deplorable economic scorecard.
He said: “For instance, during the #endsars protests in October 2020, Mr. Emefiele held a secret meeting with some of leading protesters. He tried in vain to prevail on the young men and women to end the protests. In a desperate bid to coerce the leaders of the #endsars movement to stop embarrassing the Buhari administration, Mr. Emefiele invoked his powers under the BOFIA by freezing the bank accounts of 20 leading protesters. He then proceeded to the Federal High Court where he secured an ex parte order to justify the violation of the fundamental right of the protesters to property. Even though Mr. Emefiele wanted to extend the obnoxious ex parte order he was compelled to discontinue the suit when his use of the CBN to achieve his political objective was exposed in the media.”
He argued emphatically that the execution of the duties of a CBN Governor by a person with political interests and ambitions will lead to a conflict of interest which will be detrimental to the nation’s economy and the sanctity of the political process.
He noted: “No doubt, the discharge of the functions of the CBN Governor by a politically exposed person will certainly lead to a conflict of interest contrary to the provisions of Section 9 of the CBN Act, Section 18 (4) (b) of the BOFIA Act and Paragraph 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officer enshrined in Part 1 of the 5th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended. Since the governorship of the Central Bank is a full-time engagement it is submitted that Mr. Emefiele cannot go around wooing delegates to vote for him in the primary election of the ruling party. More importantly, the country cannot afford a situation whereby the Governor of the Central Bank will be tempted to dip into the till to fund his political campaign.”
From the foregoing, Mr. Emefiele has a number of legal hurdles to cross to participate in the primary election of the ruling party. Having realised the criminality involved in accepting the Greek gift of the farmers the CBN Governor said thst he would use his “hard-earned savings from over 35 years of banking leadership (simulating the image of a public-spirited official) to buy my own Nomination Forms”. However, since he has the constitutional right to participate in politics and contest elections he is required by law to resign his appointment forthwith. If he does not call it quits with the CBN forthwith Mr. Emefiele should be removed by the President in line with Section 11 of the CBN Act and recommended for prosecution for conflict of interest before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Retaining Mr. Emefiele as the Governor of the CBN and presidential aspirant in the ruling party is going to have more deleterious effect on the national economy that has been paralysed through the implementation of obnoxious monetary policies at the behest of imperialism.
Finally, it was reported that upon the purchase of the APC nomination form for Mr. Emefiele the naira was reported to have plunged to N591 to US$1 from N417 at the parallel market official rate. More disastrous consequences await the currency and the debt ridden national economy if the Governor is allowed to continue to use his official position to prosecute his presidential ambition. However, while Mr. Emefiele is awaiting divine intervention it is pertinent to point out that by virtue of the combined effect of section 9 of the CBN Act and Section 18 of the Banks and Financial institutions Act 2020 it is the Board of the CBN that is competent to permit him to engage in politics or any other vocation. So far, the Board of the CBN has not authorised him to participate in the primary election of the ruling party. To that extent, he is disqualified from seeking any elective position in the primary election of any political party or in the general election.