- Category: REPORTS
- Published on Sunday, 23 February 2014 19:36
- By Eze Onyekpere Esq
Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) notes with regret the removal of Nigeria's Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi, who has been suspended from office by the President pending investigations into "various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct which are inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused
economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline". The presidential statement announcing his suspension said he had been removed pending "investigations into breaches of enabling laws, due process and mandate" of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
However, the purported removal or suspension of the Central Bank Governor raises a lot of issues. First, the action of the President seems unjustifiable in law. The CBN Act in section 11 specifically provides that:
11. – (1) A person shall not remain a Governor, Deputy Governor or Director of the Bank if he is -
(a) a member of any Federal or State legislative house; or
(b) a Director, officer or employee of any bank licensed under the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act.
(2) The Governor, Deputy Governor or Director shall cease to hold office in the Bank if he -
(a) becomes of unsound mind or, owing to ill health, is incapable of carrying out his duties;
(b) is convicted of any criminal offence by a court of competent jurisdiction except for traffic offences or contempt proceedings arising in connection with the execution or intended execution of any power or duty conferred under this Act or the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act;
(c) is guilty of a serious misconduct in
relation to his duties under this Act;
(d) is disqualified or suspended from practicing his profession in Nigeria by order of a competent authority made in respect of him personally;
(e) becomes bankrupt;
(f) is removed by the President:
Provided that the removal of the Governor shall be supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed.(underlining supplied).
Against the background of the foregoing provisions, CSJ finds it difficult to locate the legal basis of the President’s action considering that the suspension cannot be justified under any of the subsections. To the best of our knowledge, the Senate has not delivered any prayer to the President for Sanusi’s removal. The law only recognizes removal as the term “suspension” is unknown to the CBN Act. If the “far reaching irregularities and breaches of enabling laws, due process and mandate” have not been investigated as indicated in the presidential statement, then the removal was based on mere conjecture without even a prima facie evidence of the allegations.
Suspending the CBN Governor at a time he raised serious allegations of corruption against the NNPC and its opaque procedures is an apparent endorsement of corruption, a validation of fiscal impunity and assault of incalculable proportions on the rule of law. It is apparent that the President has not received good advice from his barrage of advisers. The President, choosing to open up more controversies and political battlefronts at a time he should be taking action to calm frayed nerves shows lack of tact and political sagacity.
CSJ therefore enjoins the President to reverse the suspension, recall Malam Sanusi and tread the path of legality.
Eze Onyekpere Esq