THE suspension of Godwin Emefiele as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has drawn the attention of some lawyers on the interpretation of Section 11 of the CBN Act 2007, which is the clause about the removal of a CBN governor.
President Bola Tinubu had suspended Emefiele on Saturday, June 10, as CBN governor and directed him to immediately hand over to the Deputy Governor, Operations Directorate, Folashodun Shonubi.
Section 11 of the CBN Act 2007 deals with the circumstances under which the CBN governor might cease to hold office, David Ogebe, a lawyer.
He said Section 11(2)(f), in particular, empowers the President to “remove” the CBN governor from office, however, with the approval of a two-thirds majority of the Senate.
“What is not, however, clear from this provision is, whether the removal ought to start by way of suspension of the CBN Governor,” Ogebe pointed out.
“If one were to apply the canon of interpretation that states that the express mention of one thing is the exclusion of another, Ogebe said, one may perhaps conclude that since the word suspension is not mentioned in the Act, then any suspension by Mr President other than outright removal is unlawful.”
“That position becomes more convincing given the fact that the alleged suspension has no prior backing or approval of a two-thirds majority of the Senate as contemplated by Section 11(2)(f) of the CBN Act,” he added.
Another legal practitioner, Sasi Jaja, argued that by virtue of Section 11 of the CBN Act, the President cannot remove the CBN governor without recourse to two-thirds of the Senate.
“It appears that the Act seeks institutional independence of the CBN, which cannot be guaranteed without the security of tenure of the governor.”
“However, according to the Federal Hìgh Court, Abuja, in the case of Sanusi Lamido v. President & Ors. (2014), the President can exercise disciplinary control over the Governor of the CBN, which includes suspension of the governor. The decision of the court was not appealed,” Jaja explained.
The issue surrounding the interpretation of the Act on the removal of the CBN governor has not been correctly interpreted since the last time Sanusi Lamido, a former CBN governor, was suspended and later removed from office, Kazeem Bello, a global development economist, added his voice to the controversy.
Bello said, “Now we can confirm that the Federal Government of Nigeria may have had reasonable evidence of misconduct or impropriety against his office to have taken such action.
“The matter should, therefore, be left alone until the government brings evidence of such misconduct to the public to justify the current investigation against him. We have to await the subsequent actions of the government on this to get the details of why he was placed on suspension.”
He noted that Tinubu had set the tone for its financial priorities from day one, and it does not appear that those priorities might sink well with some CBN elements.
To him, there was nothing unusual about Emefiele’s suspension as similar developments happen elsewhere, including in the United States of America.
“Incoming Presidents in the US always want to work with a Treasury Chief whose thinking and ideologies align with their financial and economic ideology, he said.
Bello recalled that in 2016 after former president, Muhammadu Buhari, assumed office, Emefiele was one of the first people the former president was advised to remove.
But he survived and remained in office throughout the tenure of the Buhari’s administration.
Reports the Department of State Services (DSS) on Saturday, June 10, confirmed arresting and detaining Emefiele.
CBN Act 2007: Disqualification and cessation of appointment
- – (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.