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Nigeria: A nation with laws that prefers to operate on lawlessness

Nigeria: A nation with laws that prefers to operate on lawlessness
May 11
09:59 2022

It is a monumental achievement, for someone to live in Nigeria of today, and still retain his sanity. More so, when the person is a keen observer of the contemporary Nigerian politics. This is usually the case, because of the whirlwind of overwhelming absurdities that have pervaded the political space, especially lately. Therefore, to safeguard my sanity that has increasingly been under threat, I decided to steer clear of politics this week. This is talking about all the tragicomedies that have bespectacled us, as each of the presidential aspirants (contenders and pretenders) from different political parties try to convince us that, he or she, is the anointed one to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, come May 29, 2023. But guess what…? Hard as I tried, I could not escape having to write without mentioning one or two things — products that were cast in the furnace of our political gladiators who double as fabricators of those absurdities. I still got caught in the labyrinthian mesh of events that characterise our realpolitik. Some politicians, who could at best be described as comedians, have come under the pretext of being called upon by the Heavenly voices, to “serve the nation”, while others pretend to have been coerced into joining the race by popular call by the people. Some even claimed that, their nomination forms which goes for amounts in the region of between eight and nine digits figures were bought for them without their consent. Incredible. Isn’t it?

One of such claims came from the sitting governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele. Initially, there were pictures of about a hundred branded vehicles with the campaign slogan, name, and pictures of one of the major architects of our monetary policies, “Alagba” Godwin Emefiele, pasted on them. Initially, there was neither a denial, nor a confirmation of what was happening from the CBN governor himself. But Nigerians have strong reasons to believe that Emefiele has full knowledge of, and has given his approval for, the aggressive campaign, as that is the way of Nigerian politicians because the kind of response he gave was more or less a confirmation, to any discerning mind. As their most popular strategy, politicians look for shadowy characters or organisations to fly a kite, as a way of testing the water, only for them to disown such a move once it backfires or appears unpopular; and if it goes well, they embrace.

If you were still in doubt whether those behind the campaign meant business, then you wait for it. On Friday, May 6, 2022, the media space was awash with reports claiming that, “three interest groups – the Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Friends of Emefiele, and Emefiele Support Group, had paid ₦100 million for the APC presidential expression of interest and nominations forms for Emefiele, ahead of 2023 general elections”. Please do not get things twisted; nobody is saying Emefiele is not qualified to run for the presidency. All we’re saying is that the law prohibits a serving CBN governor from being involved in partisan politics. He must remain apolitical while in office. But all these happened without him first turning in his resignation as required by the law.

A report also confirms it that he has even registered, since February 2021, as a card-carrying member of APC at his Ward 6 in the Ika South local government area of Delta state, according to the ward’s party chairman, Mr. Nduka Erikpume. So, it was not a happenstance that APC’s forms were purchased for him, unlike the immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan, who has not been confirmed to have defected to the ruling, but has forms procured for him on Monday, by one of the numerous shadowy groups around the country.

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While reactions from every quarter continue to trail the reports, the apex bank’s governor, in a lackluster reaction, said that he would decide on the 2023 presidency in a few days, in a series of tweets on Saturday, May 7, 2022. But he has, instead, gone ahead to hired the service of one of the most prominent constitutional lawyers in the country, Chief Mike Ozekhome, to prevent the relevant laws and institutions from compelling him to resign from office before being in the running for the presidential ticket of the ruling, All Progressives Congress (APC).

Now, let’s face it. Nigeria is a country where lawlessness seems to be the “operating law”, even though there is an operating code of governance called ‘the 1999 constitution’. Ideally, the chairman of what could pass as the equivalence of the US Reserve Bank, is expected to be apolitical; which is non-negotiable. As a matter of fact, Emefiele has never demonstrated any sign of independent-mindedness since he assumed office, as could be deduced from the policies he has purportedly formulated, his manner of implementing them and the consequences on the nation’s macroeconomy. There has been nothing to show that he’s been in charge all along, except when he was threatening Aboki FX, an online medium, monitoring daily naira exchange rate. He accused the medium of being behind the free fall of naira against the dollar, through what he termed as its “speculative reports”. That was incompetence on steroids. Emefiele went ahead to prove that those in whose care we entrust the conscience of our nation, and some very critical institutions that are very strategic to the survival of the country as a sovereign political entity have an insatiable appetite for assaulting the legitimacy of our law, and that, their lack of regards for the rule of the law. They continue to act like they’re laws unto themselves. I dare say that Emefiele cannot, in all honesty, tell Nigerians and indeed, the whole world, that he is not aware of the plan to “drag” him into the presidential race on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress; he cannot also claim ignorance of what the law says regarding his position as the CBN governor, and participation in partisan politics. A very popular Lagos-based lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, summarises sections of the laws being violated by the CBN governor and his partners-in-crime, putting it in one of his Facebook updates on May 6, 2022, thus:
“By the combined provisions of 030402(G), 030422, & 030423 of Public Service Rules (2008 Ed.), Constitution of FRN, 1999, as amended, and Sections 1(3), 7(1), 9, 11(1) & 11(3) of the CBN Act, 2007, the CBN governor acted unlawfully in joining the APC and seeking to contest for the presidency”. Someone needs to tell aspirant-Emefiele that being the head of an institution that takes custody of critical voting materials, his intended involvement in the presidential race has done tremendous violence to the integrity of the electoral process. So the earlier he quits, the better.

A convener of one of the numerous support groups calling on the CBN governor to throw his hat in the ring, “The Green Alliance (TGA)” movement, Wale Fapohunda, in a report said Emefiele neither had any knowledge of, nor sponsored the acquisition and branding of those vehicles displayed in the trending photo. He wants right-thinking Nigerians to believe that the CBN governor woke up one day and saw it like you and I did. I wonder what these people take Nigerians for!

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When the headmaster of a school decides to defecate on the assembly ground, the pupils should be pardoned for doing just as little as urinating on the same ground. Much as this is a gross violation of relevant laws of the land, one cannot really blame the former managing director of Zenith Bank Plc. because the “number-one” law officer of the country, the attorney general of the federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), is also busy trying to game the system, distributing exotic cars to delegates from Kebbi state in pursuit of his rumoured gubernatorial ambition.

According to a report by an online news medium, the car gifts include 14 Mercedes-Benz (GLK) whom the minister gifted to dedicated social media influencers promoting his gubernatorial ambition. The ministers also gifted other associates, eight Prado SUVs, four Toyota Hilux, and four Lexus LX 570 each.

But in an interactive session with newsmen in Birnin-Kebbi, the state capital, he denied donating vehicles, claiming that: “It was his friends and associates that donated vehicles to long-serving workers in the “Khadimiyya Foundation”. Then I shudder to ask, who uses such high-end cars for humanitarian services that entail advancement of access to justice as Khadimiyya Foundation claims to be involved in? Which part of their activities necessitates the use of such high-end vehicles in a poverty-stricken state like Kebbi? It is like the defence is even worse than the offence, as lies are being told to cover up a lie.

Call it what you may; bribery, vote-buying, inducement with a view to rigging party primary elections, they’re all violations of the law.

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In the newly passed electoral law, unlike in the past where an individual donated billions of naira to parties, donations from individuals can now no longer exceed ₦500 million, else candidates risk forfeiture or a year jail term, or both. I hope the anti-graft agencies are taking note of the worth of all these donations, such that when it comes to calculating how much donation is coming from individuals, it would be clear, who should have a day in the law court.

At this juncture, I do not envy Abdulrasheed Bawa, having the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) probe Abubakar Malami. If you really know why the erstwhile EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, was sacrificed for the emergence of Bawa, you will understand why being a Bawa at this very critical moment is not in any way attractive. The position of the ICPC is no less unattractive. Being the attorney general, Malami has the prerogative to determine, whether or not, the prosecution of a case should continue. Their job is made more difficult especially in this season of politics, when for instance, liberalised allegation of corruption, like in the case of recent “state pardon” towards political ends in the office of minister for justice, reeking of corruption, which I learnt is another subject of investigation by the EFCC.

The long and short of the whole thing is that, you can hardly fault Emefiele, if Malami could be this enmeshed in the scandalous allegation of material inducement of delegates from his home state of Kebbi. Once a fish starts decaying from the head, there would be no hope left for other parts of its body.

Now that everybody is paying for, and obtaining the “expression of interest and nomination forms”, including the CBN governor, we are waiting for the day the INEC chairman, the inspector general of police, the chief of defence staff, and the chief justice of Nigeria would obtain their own forms, predictably, to run on the platform of the ruling APC.

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Abubakar writes from Ilorin. He can be reached via 08051388285 or [email protected]

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