In a move that can be open to legal challenge in court, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, has suspended the Governor of the Central Bank Mr Godwin Emefiele. Emefiele’s suspension was contained in a press release on the 9th of June 2023 from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Also the State Security Services (SSS) also known the Department of State Services (DSS) are widely reported to have arrested the embattled CBN Governor, Friday night, 9 June.
The suspension and arrest of Mr Godwin Emefiele is reminiscent of what took place in 2014. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the CBN Governor at the time, was suspended by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Citing the CBN Act, many people called that suspension illegal. That included Tinubu’s All Progressives Congress (APC) which issued a statement saying the government should tread with care as the nation’s economy was in distress and the reasons for attempting to fire Sanusi was based on “mere allegations”.
In the current case, the SGF’s release gave the reasons for removing Emefiele as an ongoing investigation into his office and some planned reforms in the financial sector of the economy. This release signed by the Director in charge of Information in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Willie Bassey, has raised eyebrows in the few hours following the action.
Section 11 of the CBN Act 11(2)(c) and (f) state clear processes for removing the CBN Governor and key team members. It says, “The Governor, the Deputy Governor or Director shall cease to hold office in the Bank if he- [c] he is guilty of a serious misconduct in relation to his duties under this Act; or [f] is removed by the President; provided that the removal of the Governor shall be supported by a two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed.”
When Jonathan suspended Sanusi, dissenting voices included All Progressives Congress (APC) which said the government should tread with care as the nation’s economy was in distress and the reasons for attempting to fire Sanusi was based on “mere allegations”.
The Act does not however expressly state what happens in the event of a suspension, which could be deemed to be a disciplinary measure by the President. The Act further does not say how a suspended CBN Governor may regain their office.