On Thursday, 20th February, 2014, the Nigerian government announced the suspension of the Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi. Not only did it come as a shock to many but it also resulted into a large debate and social commentary on the whether the President has the power to suspend the CBN Governor. The relevant provision of the law that deals with this matter is the Central Bank (Establishment) Act, 2007 which was signed into law by then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Section 11 of the CBN Act provides for the disqualification and cessation of office of the Governor, it provides that;
(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 practising 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 (emphasis supplied).
Apparently, the provision of the law on this topic is clear, however, it is expected that if the suspension is challenged in court, the honourable court will further shed more light on the validity of the order and if the president does in fact have the powers to suspend Sanusi Lamido.
The section further provides that;
(3) The Governor or any Deputy Governor may resign his Office by giving at least three months’ notice in writing to the President of his intention to do so and any Director may similarly resign by giving at least one months’ notice in writing to the President of his intention to do so.
(4) If the Governor, any Deputy Governor or Director of the Bank dies, resigns or otherwise vacates his Office before the expiry of the term for which he has been appointed, there shall be appointed a fit and proper person to take his place on the Board for the unexpired period of the term of appointment in the first instance if the vacancy is that of-
(a) the Governor or a Deputy Governor, the appointment shall be made in the manner prescribed by section 8 (1) and (2) of the Act.
Section 8 provides that;
(1) The Governor and Deputy-Governors shall be persons of recognised financial experience and shall be appointed by the President subject to confirmation by the Senate on such terms and conditions as may be set out in their respective letters of appointment.
(2) The Governor and Deputy Governors shall be appointed in the first instance for a term of … years and shall each be eligible for re-appointment for another term not exceeding five years:
Provided that, of the first four Deputy Governors to be so appointed, one shall in the first instance be appointed for three years and two shall in the first instance be appointed for four years.
(3) The salaries, fees, wages or other remuneration or allowances including pension and other allowances payable to the Governor and to the Deputy Governors shall be as stipulated from time to time by the Board subject to the approval of the President.
(4) The Governor shall appear before the National Assembly at semi-annual hearings as specified in paragraph (b) regarding-
(a) efforts, activities, objectives and plans of the Board with monetary policy; and
(b) economic development and prospects for the future described in the report required in subsection (5) (a) of this section.
(5) The Governor shall, from time to time-
(a) keep the President, informed of the affairs of the Bank including a report on its budget; and
(b) make a formal report and presentation on the activities of the Bank and the performance of the economy to the relevant Committees of the National Assembly.