By Lawrence Olaoye, Etuka Sunday, Umar Muhammad Puma, Abuja, & Ayodele Samuel, Lagos
Suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, yesterday vowed to seek judicial interpretation to his suspension as the apex bank boss, to ascertain whether indeed, President Goodluck Jonathan has the power to take such action.
Sanusi who spoke on cable news network, CNBC Africa, said: “It has never been my desire to hold on to a job. However, I believe if the CBN governor cannot be removed from office, then he cannot be suspended. He can be queried, but the exercise of the arbitrary decision to remove him must be challenged.
“There is the view by some people on whether the president has the authority to remove or suspend the Central Bank governor, or whether the action is not illegal. I am not interested.
“As an individual, I was invited to serve my country, and I have always known that at any point the government feels it is time to go, I will go. But, in terms of the institution, it would be helpful to establish the principle by the court, and I think that is the step I intend to take,” Sanusi said shortly after he handed over to the CBN Deputy Governor in charge of Policy, Mrs. Sarah Alade, in Niamey, Niger Republic where the news of the former’s sack was broken to him.
Sanusi was among central bank governors of West African countries who were billed to hold a meeting in that country, shortly before his removal.
“If it (the decision) is not challenged, then from now the next CBN governor cannot be independent. He can be suspended for any reason, and the independence of the CBN would be totally undermined. It is important to establish the point legally whether this can happen. I do plan to ask the court to confirm if, indeed, that authority exists. I will challenge it,” he stressed.
A statement by Jonathan’s spokesman, Reuben Abati said yesterday that Sanusi was removed for alleged “financial recklessness”.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has rejected Sanusi’s suspension, describing it as “illegal and unconstitutional”.
A motion moved by Rep. Samson Osagie (APC Edo), under matters of urgent national importance, faulted the decision of the president to suspend the Sanusi, saying the CBN Act as amended has no provision empowering the president or anybody to suspend the CBN governor.
According to him, only Section 11(7) of the CBN Act gives the president powers to remove the governor, subject to approval of two-third majority of the Senate.
“This House has recommended the sack of the Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mrs. Arunma Oteh and many other recommendations of the House and yet they were not sacked or suspended.
“Therefore the House mandates its committees on Justice and Legislative Compliance to compile all resolutions of the House which indicated any public officers for which the president has refused to act for purpose and request that the president acts on them expeditiously”, the lawmakers said.
In a related development, the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday condemned the action, saying that the suspension was patently illegal, poorly thought-out and in bad taste, noting that it will definitely have negative consequences for the nation’s economy.
In a statement issued in Lagos by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party also said: “As the country wallows in unprecedented corruption under the rudderless and corruption-hugging Jonathan administration, the president may have finally decided to send a strong signal to all Nigerians that it will not tolerate any exposure of corruption under any circumstance. What
better way to do this than to silence the man who has exposed the alleged missing 20 billion dollars in the NNPC accounts?”
APC said that Sanusi’s suspension has also shown clearly that President Jonathan as a leader does not care if he destroys national institutions on the altar of personal ego and political expediency.
“President Jonathan should not destroy our institutions before he bows out of office next year. These institutions are older than him and will definitely outlive him,” APC warned.
Meanwhile, the governor of Kano state, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, has also faulted the suspension of Sanusi, saying that there was an ulterior motive behind the action.
Speaking at a public function in the Kano Government House yesterday, Gov. Kwankwaso stated that the suspension was a grand design to dislodge Kanawa from the economic and financial decision-making agencies of the federal government in order to further impoverish and marginalize the state.
The governor also said it was sheer disrespect to the existing laws of the land and show of ingratitude that a person who has brought about sweeping positive changes that would have put the nation’s
economy on the pedestal of growth, would be treated unfairly.
He said Sanusi should rather be commended for exposing the rot and corruption in the NNPC. “A responsible government would have promptly investigated the allegations but they disappointingly refused to so doing,” Kwankwaso said.