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Can Tinubu Lawfully Suspend or Sack Emefiele As Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor?

Can Tinubu Lawfully Suspend or Sack Emefiele As Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor?

The Governor of the central bank of Nigeria has just been suspended and immediately arrested and detained by the agents of the state security services (SSS). According to rumors making around the corner, the governor was arrested on ten allegations which include the following;

  1. Funding of unknown gunmen, ESN and IPOB,

  2. Mismanagement of Nigeria’s Social Investment program (NIRSAL) and the anchor Borrowers scheme,

  3.  Illegal economic crimes of National security dimension,

  4. Money Laundering,

  5. Unwholesome activities through proxy,

  6. Round Tripping,

  7. Conferment of financial benefits to self and others,

  8. Threat to national security,

  9. criminal conspiracy to divert government resources and

  10. Terrorism funding.

No doubt that Mr Emefiele’s hate and ordeal started with the naira notes redesign policy which coincidentally happened in the heat of political campaigns and this made some agents of the APC allege that it was his ploy to scuttle the campaign and backstage the electoral success of President Tinubu. It took court action to stop him from going on with that policy.

For the sake of legal argument, the issue that this suspension of the governor has posed again as it posed in 2014 when it first happened is whether the President can outrightly and unilaterally sack or suspend the governor of the central bank of Nigeria. According to S. 11(2)(f) of the CBN Act, 2007, the president can only sack the governor of the CBN if the sack was approved by a 2/3 majority of the Senate. This procedure was enshrined as a way of making the governor somehow independent of the Presidency so that he can execute his jobs without the fear of being outrightly or unilaterally sacked by the president anytime he wishes or wills.

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Although there is an existing federal High Court judgment which tends to be the current authority on this matter; “whether the president has the power to sack or suspend the governor of the central bank unilaterally without recourse or approval from the senate”; Sanusi Lamido Sanusi v. President of federal republic of Nigeria & Ors.

Recall that this same thing playing out today played out in 2014 when the then governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had a fallout with the then president Goodluck Jonathan, the president suspended him and also arrested and seized his International passport.  Sanusi Lamido Sanusi decided to go to court to enforce his rights and also hinging on the provisions of S 11(2(f) of the CBN act stating that the president has no such power to unilaterally remove or suspend him. The court held that although the president cannot remove the CBN Governor unilaterally as provided in S 11 of the CBN act, the president can exercise disciplinary control over the governor which includes suspension.

This matter was never appealed by the then governor hence this is the current rule on the matter; ie, although the president cannot unilaterally remove or sack the CBN governor as provided in s 11 of the CBN act, the president can lawfully exercise some disciplinary action over the governor by suspending him.

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