Curious Travail Of INEC Chairman, CBN Governor

By Martins Oloja

As in Alice in Wonderland, it is getting ‘curiouser and curiouser’ why a few weeks to a critical general election, the Chairman of the Independent National Election (INEC), the election management agency appears to be in the eye of some storm, is being distracted and can be removed from office the way members of a cabal removed the Chief Justice of the Federation, Hon Justice Walter Onnoghen a few days to election in 2019.

And curiously, at the same time, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) appears to be in trouble and is running from pillar to post to save his job and curiously, the authorities in Nigeria appear unperturbed by the travails of these two significant public officers at this time.

What is more curious, the most organised and consistently credible intelligence agency in the country, the Department of State Security (DSS) is involved in the points at issue – travails of Professor Mahmood Yakubu and Mr. Godwin Emefiele. Strangely enough, the consequences of the distractions caused to the two officers at this time are not on the front pages and prime time in the mainstream media.

It is also incredible that even those who are campaigning for the elections are not drawing attention to the fact that some strange forces are working hard in the courts to ensure that INEC the only body the law authorises to conduct the elections may be prevented from conducting the elections for May 29 to remain sacrosanct.

I am disturbed that I may not have had enough clairvoyance to know what most people in Abuja and other powerful political centres know at this time. Why are people not talking and raising alarm at this time that some forces have been granted illegal access to the confidential file of the INEC Chairman at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and some of the items are being used to prosecute the INEC Chairman in open courts.

This was the way the same strange forces appeared in 2019 against Nigeria’s Chief Justice like a thief in the night and even the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo then said that was curious and the president was not aware of the Code of Conduct case against Justice Onnoghen.

In 2019, it all began as a joke and the artful prosecutors who knew what they wanted clinically executed their plan: removed our CJN through an administrative tribunal without any recourse to the constitution on how to remove Nigeria’s Chief Justice: they ensured that Justice Onnoghen who was once at the Court of Appeal joined a minority judgment in favour of PMB, would not preside over 2019 election petitions against PMB’s second term.

They went for Justice Onnoghen on the watch of the incumbent Attorney General of the Federation. The heavens didn’t fall. I have been writing on this dark side of our history.

They are on the march again for #2023 elections. I have been pondering on the correlation between the strange arrest bid and possible prosecution of the CBN Governor by the DSS instead of the Police or the EFCC and Attorney General of the Federation and the 2023 elections.

I haven’t established that correlation in this our wonderful country of anything-is-possible. But I am concerned by the timing, just a few weeks to elections that require cash transactions within the country’s electoral constituencies. The made-to be distracted CBN governor is implementing a strategic currency change monetary policy at the moment.

And so even if the authorities in the country do not like the implications of the deal at this time, is there no way of settling this with the CBN Governor behind the scenes without humiliating and harassing the Governor who can no longer preside over meetings openly and peacefully at the moment?

As I was saying, this is a question time: why are the elders of the land and even people who are exerting energy and spending time and money on campaign not disturbed by the fact that the elections they are prepared to face may not hold after all, from the way some dark forces are hell-bent on ensuring that the current Chairman who has been harping on the efficacy of using technologies for the 2023 elections for electoral purity?

Should we hazard a guess that some of the candidates would like the INEC to be disrupted a few weeks to the national elections? What do they know about the people who are bent on prosecuting the INEC Chairman instead of campaigning? Why do the authorities in DSS think that they don’t owe the people clarity and indeed thorough explanation why they are linked to the travails of CBN Governor they keep asking the courts to allow them to prosecute?

Why are they also being linked to the INEC Chairman’s probe at this critical time. The DSS parades a very solid Public Affairs Department established by the regime of Col Kayode Areh (rtd) as a fallout of the demonisation of the strategic intelligence agency by the dreadful military administration of general Sani Abacha. This is a democracy and one critical element in a democracy is civic education, which enables and empowers citizens to depend on information for informed decisions.

Which is why the logo of The Washington Post caries this classic: ‘Democracy dies in darkness’. And so here is the thing, the Office of the Citizen should not be kept in darkness about what is happening to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Chairman of the election management agency that is expected to conduct critical elections including a presidential election latenext month.

We need to know why the institutions that have some primary responsibility for dealing with allegations against the CBN Governor and INEC Chairman such as the police, the EFCC, ICPC, CCB and the Office of Attorney General are not involved at this time. These questions come as we recall the ghastly invasion of the official quarters of Supreme Court and Appeal Court justices just before the strange trials and removal of Justice Onnoghen. We are on the march again.

I think the Department of State Security (DSS) is a strategic and serious institution of governance and security of the state. It shouldn’t be dragged again into pre-election politics that can lead to negative perception that emerged after the fall of Abacha’s repressive regime. They should guard their reputation jealously.

This digital media age isn’t a time to just issue statements threatening civil society organisations to desist from preventing them from doing their jobs. We the people deserve to know what is going on. It is gratifying to know that we have the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture. The ministry can help in getting the public to know what is happening to our INEC Chairman and CBN Governor a few weeks to national elections.

This isn’t a defence mechanism for the two officers. They don’t enjoy immunity and we believe that they face consequences of their actions as public officers. We just need to know why the ‘prosecutors’ of INEC Chairman has to wait till a few weeks to elections before striking on the officer’s lack of qualification to hold office.

Oloja is former editor of The Guardian newspaper.

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