Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s backers in the All Progressives Congress on Thursday pressed on with the moves to field the ex-President as the APC’s consensus presidential candidate.
The Fulani group, which on Monday obtained the APC’s N100m presidential nomination and expression of interest forms for Jonathan, said on Thursday that it would submit the forms on Friday.
Also, there were indications on Thursday that the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, would not heed the call for him to resign before the APC primaries scheduled for May 30.
His lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said if he was going to resign, he would only do so 30 days before the 2023 elections.
The Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, disclosed that the President had directed members of his cabinet contesting parties’ primaries to resign on or before Monday.
Before the presidential directive, the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, had tendered his resignation.
A few hours after the FEC meeting, the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, and his counterpart for Technology and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu, also resigned.
On Thursday, the President extended the resignation order to other appointees, including Emefiele.
The directive, which was contained in a circular by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, was issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha.
The circular was addressed to all serving ministers, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, National Security Adviser; Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission; the CBN governor, Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency; Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service and heads of extra-ministerial departments, Directors-General/Chief Executive Officers of parastatals, agencies and government-owned companies among others.
But three presidential appointees were at a Federal High court in Abuja to challenge the threat to disqualify them if they failed to resign.
The first plaintiff, Sodique Abubakar claimed to be a political appointee and currently serving as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Chad.
The second plaintiff, Sodique Lawal Abubakar, claimed to be a Special Assistant in the Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA while the third defendant, Bindir Umar Buba, asserted to be National Coordinator, Social Investment Programme in the Ministry of Humanitarian.
The aspirants are praying the court to stop APC and Independent National Electoral Commission from disqualifying them on the strength of their being political appointees and Section 84 (11) and (12) of the Electoral Act 2022.
The processes of the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/641/2022, instituted on their behalf by Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) were obtained by journalists in Abuja on Thursday.
The three plaintiffs are contending that Section 84 (11) and (12) of the new Electoral Act is discriminatory against them and unconstitutional and therefore should not be permitted by the court to be used to disqualify them on account of their mere political appointment.
The plaintiffs in their originating summons filed want the court to determine whether being Nigerians covered by Sections 66, 177 and 182 of the 1999 constitution can be subjected to any other conditions, rules or guidelines for the purpose of election into the office of the Governor of Bauchi State and House of Representatives respectively by APC under section 221 of the Constitution other than the qualifications and criteria set out in sections 66, 177 and 182 of the Constitution.
They also ask the court to determine whether being card-carrying members of the APC and political appointees, they can be prevented or barred from participating in its political convention, congress or primaries merely because they are political appointees.
Lawyer to the CBN governor, Dr Mike Ozekhome (SAN), in an interview, insisted that his client would only resign on moral grounds and not on points of law.
He however said the decision to quit would be left to the President and Emefiele.
Emefiele had through Ozekhome applied for an order of status quo ante bellum to be made against INEC and AGF so that he would not be made to resign from office until 30 days to the 2023 general elections.
The plaintiff in an ex-parte application had also denied being a political appointee but a public servant not caught by section 84 (12) of the new Electoral Act 2022.
The CBN governor had asked the court to invoke Section 318 of the 1999 constitution to bar the defendants from asking him to vacate office until 30 days to the February 2023 Presidential election.
Emefiele had expressed apprehension that the sale and submission of the presidential nomination form would expire on Wednesday and that unless the INEC and AGF were ordered to maintain status ante bellum as of May 5 when he filed the suit, he would be made to vacate office before his form would be accepted by the appropriate authority.
But Ozekhome said that while the choice to resign was left for the Presidency and his client, the CBN governor would only resign on moral grounds and not on points of law.
He said, “Whether he (Emefiele) goes or not is his own decision, he has told me to take up the legal aspect for him, that if he wants to go at all, he is entitled to stay in office 30 days to the general elections.
“But it is now left for him to go even before the case is decided or after. But at least the law would have decided.
“Yes, it (resignation) is left for him but not because of legal requirements. If he wants to go, it will be on moral ground, not because the law says he must go now.
“We are talking of the constitution here, we are talking of Section 137 (1g) and Section 318 of the constitution which makes him a public officer and the Court of Appeal decision that Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act is unconstitutional and that Section cannot even apply to him because Emefiele is not a political appointee within the meaning of Section 84 (12).
“If he decides to go, it will be on moral ground not on the legal or constitutional ground because the law does not say he must go. It is entirely his own decision and the decision of the President who appointed him not because that is the position of the law.
“The Court of Appeal Wednesday said Section 84, Sub-section 12 of the Electoral Act (as amended) is unconstitutional for being inconsistent with Section 42 Sub-section 1 of the 1999 constitution which gives the right to freedom of assembly and association.”