The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and two lawyers, as interest parties in the suit by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, to secure his right to run for the presidency in 2023.
The judge, Ahmed Mohammed, dismissed the objection of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), one of the two defendants originally sued by Mr Emefiele, to grant permission to PDP to be joined as a party to the case.
Mr Emefiele had filed his suit praying for an order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the AGF from disqualifying him from contesting for the presidential ticket of any political party of his choice ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The PDP and two lawyers, John Aikpokpo-Martins and Olakunle Ebun, had subsequently applied to be joined as interested parties in the suit. Mr Aikpokpo-Martins and Edun applied to be joined in the suit on behalf of a non-governmental organisation – Save Nigeria Our Fatherland.
The applications were opposed by the AGF. But the plaintiff, Mr Emefiele, and INEC were neutral.
Ruling on the applications, however, the judge dismissed the AGF’s objection and granted the PDP’s application. He ruled that the AGF lacked the right to oppose the requests.
“The plaintiff who should have opposed the joinder has conceded it. The joinder applications are hereby granted,” Mr Mohammed said.
Subsequently, the judge ordered Mr Emefiele’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), to file and serve amended court documents on the defendants to reflect the new parties to the suit.
Messrs Dipo Okpeseyi and Sabastin Hon represented the AGF and the PDP, respectively.
Why we are joining suit
One of the newly joined respondents, Mr Aikpokpo-Martins, who is the 1st Vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), told PREMIUM TIMES that he was joining the suit in the interest of Nigerians.
Citing the case of Nduka Edede versus the AGF concerning the controversial Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 which was determined by the Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State, Mr Aikpokpo-Martins said the “interest of Nigerians was not properly defended in the suit by the AGF who was the sole respondent.
“To forestall what transpired in the recent AGF suit at the Federal High Court in Umuahia, we have joined this case to ensure that it is not compromised,” Mr Aikpokpo-Martins explained.
Mr Malami after receiving news of the outcome of the decision by the judge, Evelyn Anyadike in Umuahia, vowed to immediately enforce the verdict.
Section 84 (12) bars political appointees from voting as delegates in party conventions or congresses of any political party to vie for elective positions.
This newspaper reported that Mr Emefiele, who filed the main suit on May 5, argued that no law exempts him from contesting the primary election of any political party as a sitting CBN governor.
“The plaintiff is legally competent to contest the primaries of any political parties while still serving as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, in so far as he gives 30 days’ notice of his resignation, withdrawal from the services of the CBN as its governor in accordance with the provisions of section 167 and 318 of the constitution,” the plaintiff’s lawyer said.
The CBN governor has been under pressure to relinquish his office since the information about his presidential ambition leaked to the public earlier this year.
In February, a PREMIUM TIMES editorial called on Mr Emefiele to resign and pursue his political ambition, if he had any, or publicly distance himself from groups clamouring for him to contest the forthcoming presidential election scheduled to hold on February 25.
Mr Emefiele spoke, on Saturday, for the first time about his reported plan to run for the presidency in the 2023 election.
He spoke after reports that a group had purchased the N100 million worth of presidential nomination and expression of interest forms of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for him.
He said although he had yet to decide to contest the presidential election, should he heed the call to run for the presidency, he would use his “own hard-earned savings from over 35 years of banking leadership to buy my own Nomination Forms”.
In his suit confirming his political ambition, Mr Emefiele sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney-General of the Federation asking the court to restrain them from compelling him to resign as the CBN governor to run for office in 2023.
His lawyer, Mr Ozekhome, expressed fears that the INEC and the AGF are making “frantic efforts to disqualify” Mr Emefiele “from participating in the presidential primaries scheduled for June 3, 2022, for not resigning from his office before the parties’ primaries.”
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