Court Rules On Suit Challenging Sanusi's Suspension May 20
BEVERLY HILLS, CA, April 08, (THEWILL) - Judgement is expected to be delivered on May 20 in the suit instituted by the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, against President Goodluck Jonathan over his suspension.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed the date on Tuesday after entertaining arguments from lawyers to parties in the case.
The Federal High Court took arguments on both the defendants' preliminary objection and the substantive case.
The suit in which Sanusi is challenging his suspension by President Jonathan has as defendants the President, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
Sanusi's lawyer, Kola Awodein (SAN), argued that the President lacked the powers to unilaterally suspend his client despite his alleged offence.
He argued that the President's exercise of the executive powers provided in the Constitution was subject to the Act of the National Assembly.
He contended that in this case, the President was expected to exercise his power to remove the CBN governor in accordance with the provision of the CBN Act.
"There is contention that there is no power to suspend the CBN governor under the CBN Act.
The Act in Section 7(4) has provided when somebody can act in the place of the CBN governor," he said.
Awodein maintained that the fact that there is no provision for the suspension of the CBN governor in the CBN Act implies that the President has no powers to suspend the governor.
He further argued that the express mention of one things is the exclusion of the other, to support his position that the non-reference to suspension in the Act implies that it is not allowed.
"If it was the intention of the law to give the President the power to suspend, it would have expressly provided that," he said, stressing that the CBN Act has effectively prohibited the President from suspending the governor of the CBN.
He argued that under Section 1(3) of the CBN Act, the bank is made an independent body with the intention of making the bank operationally independent, so that there will not be interference of any sort in its operations, except as permitted under the Act.
Awodein contended that even if the President was to exercise control over the bank, which include the suspension of its governor, such must be done with the support of two-third majority of the Senate.
He therefore pleaded with the court to hold that his client has made out a proper case for the court to void his suspension.
Responding to the defendants' objection to the suit, Awodein argued that the defendants misconstrued the plaintiff's suit.
He said the suit simply seeks the court application of its interpretative powers to interprete the provision of the CBN Act vis a vis the action of the President.
He argued that the defendants were in error when argued that the case was employment related and should be struck out.
He argued that as against the position of the defendants, the plaintiff.
Is not an employee of the President to have qualified that case as a dispute between an employee and an employer.
He said his client is an employee of the CBN, He therefore urged the court to dismiss the defendants' objections.
But in their submission, the defence lawyers - Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Solomon Umoh (SAN), while arguing the preliminary objections, had urged the court to strike out the suit because it was employment related.
They maintained that by virtue of Section 254(1)(c) of the Constitution, the Federal High Court lacked the jurisdictional powers to hear the case.
The defence counsel further argued that the plaintiff's claims were caught by the exclusivity confered on the National Industrial Court by Section 254(1)(a) of the Constitution.
On the main suit, the lawyers argued that the suspension of the plaintiff by the President was within his powers, contending that the CBN was an agency of the Executive arm of the Federal Government, whose powers as contained in Section 5 of the Constitution is vested in the President.
They maintained that the embattled Sanusi is a public officer and an employee of the Federal Government by virtue of his appointment and was not immune to the control of the President.
They argued that the President, in suspending Sanusi did not terminate his employment, but merely asked him to step aside to enable the Financial Regulatory Council (FRC) a statutory body, perform its role of investigating allegations of procedural and financial breaches raised against him.
The defence lawyers noted that the suspension was intended to enable unbias investigation of allegations that Sanusi awarded contract of about N163billion, amounting to 63 per cent in excess of the CBN's authorised share capital.
They prayed the court to dismiss the suit, saying the President acted within his powers.
Sanusi is however praying the court to determine: *Whether having regard to the provisions of the CBN Act 2007 especially sections 1(3), 8(1) and 11(2) the 1st defendant has any power whatsoever to suspend the plaintiff from office as CBN governor *Whether having regard to the provisions of the CBN Act 2007 especially sections 1(3), 8(1) and 11(2) the 1st defendant has any power whatsoever to suspend the plaintiff from office as CBN governor without the support of 2/3 majority of the Senate praying that he be suspended.
*Whether having regard to the provisions of the CBN Act 2007 especially sections 1(3), 8(1) and 11(2) the purported suspension of the plaintiff from office as governor of the CBN does not amount to unlawful interference by the 1st defendant, in the administration and or management and control of the CBN.
He is praying the court for among others: *A declaration that the 1st defendant has no statutory or any power whatsoever to suspend the plaintiff from office as the governor of the CBN.
*A declaration that the purported suspension of the plaintiff as conveyed by the letter of February 19, 2014 is illegal, invalid, null and void and of no effect whatsoever Alternatively, a declaration that the purported suspension of the plaintiff from office without the support of the 2/3 majority of the Senate is invalid, illegal, null and void.
*An order setting aside the purported suspension as contained in the February 19 letter.
*An order restraining the defendants or any of its agents from giving effect or further giving effect to the purported suspension of the plaintiff *An order restraining the defendants or their agents from interfering, storing or preventing the plaintiff from performing his official functions as the CBN governor.