Tuesday, May 20, 2014 3:50 pm
Nnamdi Felix / Abuja
Exactly three months after his suspension from office as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, on Tuesday suffered a set back in his bid to nullify his suspension and return to office, as a Federal High Court siting in Abuja has declined jurisdiction to entertain his suit wherein he is seeking for an order of the court declaring his suspension from office without the support of the Senate as null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
Sanusi’s suspension which came just about four months to his June retirement date, was announced on 2nd of February via a statement issued by the President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Reuben Abati, following a letter ordering his suspension dated 19th February and signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim.
The statement notes that the federal government had taken special notice of reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies, which indicate clearly that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure at the helm of affairs at the nation’s apex bank, has been characterized by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct which are inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline.
In arriving at its decision not to entertain Sanusi’s suit but to transfer it to the National Industrial Court, the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that Sanusi’s appointment as CBN Governor was in furtherance to the CBN Act of 2007 and does not fall within the category of tenured employment embedded in the constitution similar to the appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria or Court Judges, whose appointments by the President are tenured, regulated and embedded in the Nigerian constitution for which the Federal High Court has the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon.
The court noted that the Federal High Court, following the coming into effect of the National Industrial Court, has been divested of the powers to determine matters relating to employment, such as that of the Governor of the CBN or any agency of government.
“The appointment of the CBN Governor is in furtherance of the act of the National Assembly. The CBN is an agency of government and all it’s employers must seek reliefs before the National Industrial Court. The CBN Act cannot be equated with the appointment of the CJN or Judges, whose terms of appointments, remunerations and dismissal or retirement are direct constitutional provisions which the creation of the plaintiff’s office is not” said the court.
Sanusi had contended that he is not an employee of President Goodluck Jonathan and as such can only removed or suspended from office by the the Board of the CBN which he, Sanusi, is the chairman and not the President. The court however disagreed with him and held that the CBN was a product of delegated legislature made by the National Assembly in accordance with its constitutional duties which makes the CBN merely an agency of government under the President.
The court thereafter transferred the suit to the President of the National Industrial Court for the determination of the fundamental issues raised in the suit given that it is the first time in the history of Nigeria, that a serving Cental Bank Governor was suspended.