The House of Representatives on Thursday described the suspension of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, by President Goodluck Jonathan as unconstitutional.
Jonathan announced the suspension of Sanusi in a statement singed early Thursday by Reuben Abati, special adviser to the President on media and publicity, alleging reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) and other investigating bodies, said to indicate clearly that Sanusi’s tenure had been characterised by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct.
But the lawmakers following a rowdy session, declared that Sanusi’s suspension was “unacceptable” because it was in breach of Section 11(7) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007.
This was sequel to a motion raised under matters of urgent national importance by Samson Raphael Osagie, House minority whip, who said that the President’s action was in breach of the law establishing the office of the CBN boss.
Osagie, who demanded for the reversal of the executive fiat in his motion entitled ‘suspension of the governor of CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’, told the House that by the said Act, nobody had the power to suspend a head of the apex bank.
“By the CBN Act, 2007 as amended, there seems to be no provision empowering the president or anybody to suspend the governor of CBN. Only section 11(7) of the Act gives the president powers to remove the CBN governor, subject to approval of a two-thirds majority of the Senate,” he added.
He also noted that the timing of the decision was curious and did not allow for a just treatment of Sanusi.
Osagie further said that the suspension was coming at a time when the CBN governor had made allegations of missing funds or funds unremitted into the federation account, and which allegations had not been resolved.
He added that he was further concerned that the allegations of recklessness by the Financial Reporting Council, upon which Sanusi was suspended did not indicate whether the CBN governor was given fair hearing, in accordance with the constitution.
“The House has made numerous resolutions bordering on corruption against certain public officers, for which the President has refused to act,” he said.
Wondering why Jonathan was quick to act on Sanusi, Osagie warned that, if condoned, the decision of the President would undermine the right to fair hearing and democracy.
He concluded his motion, which was read amid commotion and interjections, by urging the House to mandate it’s committees on justice and legislative compliance, headed by the duo of Aminu Shagari and Akinderu Fatai, respectively, to compile the resolutions from the House against certain individuals for which Jonathan had allegedly refused to act, and report to the House.
In her contribution, Nkoyo Toyo said that the suspension of Sanusi was sad and contemptuous of the man who had worked assiduously and courageously.
But before the motion was adopted, Karibo Nado kicked against it, citing Order 9 Rule 47.
Also kicking against the motion was Nnanna Igbokwe, who insisted that Jonathan’s decision to suspend the apex banker was in line with the Public Service rules and within the discretionary powers of the President.
But Tambuwal, speaker, however, overruled both opponents to the motion, affirming Osagie’s point.
Meanwhile, Reuben Abati, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, has assured investors that they need not be anxious over the suspension of Sanusi.
Abati stated that monetary policies of the federal government remain intact, adding that if anything, Sanusi’s suspension was meant to strengthen the economy and stabilise the naira.
“That decision was taken only with regards to internal governance issue within the central bank. In the statement issues raised were very clear that there are issues of internal governance. Government remains committed to the stability of the economy, stability of the naira and stability of the country’s monetary policies”
By: Teddy Nwanunobi