Stephen Ukandu, News & Features Editor
Legal luminary, Chief Femi Falana, has said that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Goodwin Emefiele, is not legally qualified to contest in the 2023 presidential election.
Falana in a statement entitled “Legal Hurdles to Cross by Mr. Godwin Emefiele,” said the CBN Governor’s participation in partisan politics while holding sway as the apex bank’s boss was a contradiction of the CBN Act.
According to Falana, Emefiele’s involvement in partisan politics will compromise CBN’s autonomy.
“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 to 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. For instance, during the #endsars protests in October 2020, Mr. Emefiele held a secret meeting with some of the 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 rights 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.”
Falana further said that Emefiele’s participation in the race while still holding office would further worsen Nigeria’s economy, citing that the exchange rate of the Naira against the US Dollar worsened from N417 to N591 Dollars last week when Emefiele purchased his nomination and expression of interest forms.
“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,” Falana said.
The legal icon advised the CBN Governor to either resign and pursue his presidential ambition or be sacked by the President for breaching the CBN Act.
“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,” the senior lawyer concluded.