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Lawyers laud Sanusi's suspension

21 February 2014, 09:42

Abuja - Some legal practitioners have expressed support for the suspension of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The lawyers said Jonathan had the legal rights to suspend or remove Sanusi from office.

One of the lawyers, Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said both the Nigerian Constitution and the CBN Act empowered him to do what he just did.

"So, constitutionally and legally, what the president did is correct and he does not require the consent of the National Assembly to do so.

"Anyone who is an employee has to know that he is answerable to his employer. You cannot bite the finger that feeds you.

"So, people should look at this from all sides, it is easy for people to say Sanusi's suspension was because he revealed some issues, but no, this is not it."

According to him, Sanusi’s behaviour has been intolerable and he has over stepped his boundary as the job of a CBN governor is to head the index bank in such a way that will ensure monetary stability.

Ozekhome said when Sanusi became the governor of the CBN, the exchange rate of a dollar to the naira was about a N130 to a dollar.

The SAN stated that the story was different now as the exchange rate was presently between N160 to N170 to a dollar, adding that it was the poorest so far in the history Nigeria.

"It is undeniable that he has made some good impact in the banking industry by weeding out bad banks and restructuring the entire banking sector.

"He has succeeded in that area no doubt, but his visibility and intrusion into matters that are highly political and have nothing to do with his office are questionable character of his.

"A governor of a central bank in any part of the world should be seen and not heard. When he should be heard, he should only be discussing monetary policies that will uplift the economy of his country.

"But here in Nigeria, is a CBN governor that has been fighting the government of his country and making very provocative and highly derogatory statements even about the monetary policies of his own country."

Ozekhome said when you say all that, then how do you want international investors to come to the country when a very reliable figure is saying all these negative things about his country."

The lawyer noted that Sanusi had been acting as a political leader or traditional ruler by donating public funds to universities, political aides and at other functions.

"And to show that he isn't even well versatile, he has made six mistakes on the alleged missing funds within these two months, he keeps changing the figures, adding ``figures coming from the CBN must be reliable.’’

Another Lagos-based lawyer , Ladi Rotimi-Williams (SAN), said that Sanusi’s suspension was "long overdue".

Rotimi-Williams said the media report credited to Sanusi that only two-thirds of the Senate could remove him from office, was an affront on the president.

He said that Jonathan was elected by majority of Nigerians while Sanusi was only appointed to serve in the government.

"The president is exercising power with responsibility to the people who put him there, while the governor of the CBN is exercising power without any sovereign right directly from the people of Nigeria.

"He was put there by the presidency and the president has the right to suspend him,” Rotimi-Williams said.

A lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Lagos State University (LASU), Gbenga Ojo, said that Sanusi's suspension was not surprising because he had been antagonising the Federal Government.

Ojo said that Sanusi ought to have tendered his resignation if he felt uncomfortable working with the government.

"There is no doubt that his actions in the past few months have been anti-establishment.

"You cannot be in a government, receiving pay from the government and you keep antagonising the same government on the pages of newspapers,"  Ojo said.


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