Reactions expectedly greeted the suspension from office with immediate effect late Friday evening of Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
A statement by Willie Bassey, Director, Information, for Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said Emefiele’s suspension was “sequel to the ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the financial sector of the economy.”
He was “directed to immediately hand over the affairs of his office to the Deputy Governor (Operations Directorate), who will act as the Central Bank Governor pending the conclusion of investigation and the reforms.”
This is even as many may not have been shocked by the move, given the President’s resolve in the run down to the election when he was reported as saying he would fire Emefiele.
Taking to his twitter handle, Inibehe Effiong, public interest and human rights lawyer blasted Emefiele for corrupting the CBN and making “nonsense of our exchange rates and forex market. The fiscal and monetary policies of the CBN under him did not help the country.”
That notwithstanding, he said the President “cannot remove him by virtue of Section 11 of the CBN Act without recourse to the Senate.
“I’m aware of a subsisting judgment of the Federal High Court in Sanusi’s case, where it was held that while the President cannot remove the CBN Governor unilaterally, he can exercise disciplinary control over him, which includes suspension. That judgment is the law on the issue.”
My view, he continued, “is that since the CBN Act does not envisage the suspension of the Governor by the President, and given the need for institutional independence of the CBN which cannot be guaranteed without security of tenure of the governor, the President shouldn’t be able to suspend.”
Adding a caveat, Effiong said this is, however, his “personal view and is subject to the subsisting judgment of the Federal High Court.”
This, he stressed, is not to say Emefiele should not “render account of his stewardship and be thoroughly held accountable for his misdeeds.”
Arguing in the same vein, IPC Justice tweeted that “the President does not have the power to suspend the Central Bank Governor. The power to remove the CBN Governor is vested in the President and the Senate jointly, as stated in Section 11(2) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007.”
For those who say the President broke the law by suspending Emefiele, TJ Associate
@AssociateTj twitted: “but, recall that the same CBN act prohibited CBN governor from being a political party member. Yet he violated the oath of office, which you, as a lawyer should have challenged in court since last year.”
Meanwhile, PM Nigeria reported last night that Emefiele was arrested by officials of the secret police after his suspension. The DSS, the newspaper recalled had on December 7, 2022, in an exparte application with reference no: FHC/ABJ/CS/2255/2022, sought an order to arrest the CBN Governor, on allegations of financing terrorism, fraudulent activities and economic crimes of national security dimension. The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, however declined the application, because it was not accompanied with the presidential approval, given the grave implications for the Nigerian economy if the CBN governor is arrested and detained.
In what may have been a confirmation of Emefiele’s arrest, Bayo Onanuga, Director, Publicity, Tinubu/Shetima campaign organization twitted: “Breaking: DSS arrests Emefiele,” referencing the PM News story.