Sanusi’s Suspension Bad for Nigeria’s Image, Says LCCI

23 Feb 2014

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Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

• Ozekhome: President’s action is legally right

Abimbola Akosile, Crusoe Osagie and Anayo Okolie

Reactions continued to trail the suspension of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, with the latest coming from the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), which noted that the development  portends negative consequences for the image of the country.

LCCI Director General, Mr. Muda Yusuf, told THISDAY that the political nature of the whole crisis that led to the abrupt removal of the suspended governor of the apex bank smeared the image of the nation, which desperately needs international goodwill to attain its socio-economic objectives.

“The whole crises and the way it has been handled does not convey a good image of the country and may impact on the economy negatively,” he said.

Yusuf, who noted that the monetary policy management approach of Sanusi was not favourable to manufacturers and industrialists in the country, stressed that there were however, several other developments of the outgoing CBN helmsman’s tenure that were worthy of commendation.

He explained that although manufacturers were unable to get credit from commercial banks due to soaring interest rates resulting from Sanusi’s tight monetary policy stance, there were several other innovations introduced by him, which are worthy of commendation.

According to him, “he did well in bringing sanity to the banking industry in the country. Before he came, most of the banks had serious corporate governance issues and their balance sheets were worthless and without any credibility but all that changed when he was CBN governor”
The LCCI boss also noted Sanusi’s contribution to the battle against corruption, especially through the introduction of the cashless policy, which has made it impossible for cash to move without trace.

He pointed out that during Sanusi’s tenure, depositors fund was well protected and there was no situation where depositors lost their money on account of the failure of any bank.

However, Constitutional lawyer, Mr. Mike Ozekhome, has declared that the suspension of the Central Bank of Nigeria governor by President Goodluck Jonathan was in order.

The CBN, Ozekhome disclosed, is the apex banking institution, the equivalent of America’s Federal Reserve Bank, the latter of which was set up on December 23, 1913.

According to Ozekhome, “Like the American Federal Reserve Bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria by the CBN Act, is supposed to be banker to banks, spearhead stability in prices, control interest rates, in a way that makes them moderate, maximise employment opportunities, conduct the Nation’s monetary and fiscal policy, supervise and regulate banking and allied institutions, conduct research into the nation’s economy and make it buoyant.

“Sanusi mounted the exalted office of governor of Central Bank nearly five years ago, at a time the naira was exchanging for less than N140 to the dollar but today, the exchange rate hovers between N165 to N172 to the dollar, the highest and most shameful in the history of this country.
Whilst conceding that Lamido did a great job in sanitising and deodorising the banking system, leading to the emergence of stronger commercial banks, Ozekhome stressed that he had not fared well in the area of calm conduct, sober carriage and the magisterial disposition expected of his office.

Ozekhome, however,  said: “Sanusi has conducted himself more like a proud, arrogant and boastful politician, an unrepentant pseudo activist and a social critic even of his own central bank policies, aside the economy of Nigeria that he gleefully tears to shreds and tatters.”

The human rights activist therefore submitted that the President was right, legally, morally and constitutionally, to have suspended Sanusi as Governor of CBN.

Meanwhile, a group, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), has expressed dissatisfaction over the suspension of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, by the President Goodluck Jonathan.

The group, in a statement made available by its Lead Director, Eze Onyekpere, said the purported removal or suspension of the Central Bank Governor raises a lot of issues.
According to the statement, “the action of the President seems unjustifiable in law. The CBN Act in section 11 specifically provides that a person shall not remain a governor, deputy governor or director of the bank if he is a member of any federal or state legislative house or  a director,
officer or employee of any bank licensed under the banks and other financial institutions act.

The statement also disclosed: “The governor, deputy governor or director shall cease to hold office in the bank: If he becomes of unsound mind or owing to ill health and is incapable of carrying out his duties; If he 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.”

Against the background of the foregoing provisions, the statement posited that CSJ found it difficult to locate the legal basis of the President’s action considering that the suspension cannot be justified under any of the subsections.

“To the best of our knowledge, the Senate has not delivered any prayer to the President for Sanusi’s removal. The law only recognises removal as the term ‘suspension’ is unknown to the CBN Act. If the “far reaching irregularities and breaches of enabling laws, due process and mandate have not been investigated as indicated in the presidential statement, then the removal was based on mere conjecture without even a prima facie evidence of the allegations.”

The statement said further: “Suspending the CBN Governor at a time he raised serious allegations of corruption against the NNPC and its opaque procedures is an apparent endorsement of corruption, a validation of fiscal impunity and assault of incalculable proportions on the rule of law.”
CSJ therefore enjoined the President to reverse the suspension and recall Sanusi.

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