*Suspension to divert public attention from missing $20bn— Fashola
*APC flays suspension; .Jonathan erred in law –Aturu
*Go to court, Atiku tells Sanusi
By Emmanuel Aziken, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Henry Umoru U & DAPO AKINREFON
LAGOS — The suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Thursday, drew mixed reactions across the country.
While the Federal Government, through the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, sought to calm fears of turbulence in the economy with an assurance that tight monetary policies would be sustained, the National Assembly was sharply divided along partisan lines.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) on its part flayed the suspension as a brazen act of illegality that was poorly thought out and in bad taste. The party said that the suspension would negatively impact the economy.
Reactions to the development also came from Governor Babatunde Fashola, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, civil rights activist, Bamidele Aturu among others.
Dr Rueben Abati, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, had in an unusual early morning announcement on his twitter handle at about 9.00 a.m, yesterday disclosed the suspension of the governor of the Central Bank in a statement.
In a statement in Lagos, yesterday, by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the APC said the action was the clearest indication yet that President Jonathan, whose body language does not abhor corruption, is willing to silence any whistle-blower, no matter his or her status.
Suspension to divert public attention from missing $20bn NNPC fund — Fashola
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, on his part, condemned the suspension, saying it was meant to divert public attention from the missing $20 billion Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, fund.
Fashola stated: “This is not a suspension but a sack. This is because there was no power to sack him and they have considered the implication.
That was why they said that he should go on suspension.”The governor in an interview with newsmen after inspecting some of the ongoing Lagos projects, lamented that immediately after the president announced the suspension of the apex bank governor, “our money devalued by four points immediately.
“If the man is going in June, there must be a sense in the messaging about executive tampering with the independence of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. This has economic consequence for investor position.
“The missing fund complained about by Sanusi has started resurfacing. This is now magician economy. The N7 million NNPC paid back, where did they get it and why are they paying back?”
Jonathan erred in law –Aturu
Also, human rights lawyer, Mr Bamidele Aturu, argued that President Jonathan flouted the law.
In a statement entitled: ‘Purported suspension of CBN Governor: An offensive illegality,’ Aturu described the suspension as the “most egregious desecration of the rule of law and the principle of legality in Nigeria to date.”
According to him, “it is unsurpassed in its blatant illegality and immorality. The decision is symptomatic of the desperation that has gripped the presidency and its allies in the wake of the troubling allegations made by the Governor of the Bank that public officials in the NNPC are looting the country blind in the name of subsidy payments.
“To the best of my knowledge, the allegation has not been coherently answered by the corporation or by the government.
“As far as the law goes, the purported suspension of the governor is unwarranted. Section 11 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 clearly lists the instances when the Governor or any of his deputies can cease to remain in office.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, whatsoever, none of such instances include suspension by the President. The only mention of the word ‘suspension’ is in section 11(1)(d) and that relates to the removal of the Governor when he or she is disqualified or suspended from practising his or her profession in Nigeria.
“Of course, the illegal suspension of the governor is not from a professional body and is not at all contemplated by the law.
It should be pointed out that the only occasion the President can recommend the removal of the Governor or exercise any disciplinary control over him is under section 11(1)(f) and that recommendation must be supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate before he can be removed.
“Now the law is indubitably clear that the express mention of one thing is the exclusion of the other. In other words, if the law had intended that the President exercises the power of suspension over the Governor of the Central Bank, it would have expressly stated so, particularly as the same law provides for the removal of the Governor based on his suspension from professional practice.
“The purported removal of the Governor of the Central Bank is a continuation of the atrocious illegalities perpetrated by the present administration. From Salami to the serial acts of infamy imposed on the people of Rivers State and now to Sanusi, one can say without any fear of equivocation that the cup of illegalities of this administration is full.
“If we don’t act now, we don’t know whose turn it would be next. We must challenge the desecration of the laws of our country by its chief custodian. The Senate must view the so-called suspension of the Governor for what it is: a naked usurpation of its powers and privileges. There is no room for illegal removal of the governor through the back door.
“The Nigeria Bar Association now has an opportunity to redeem whatever is left of its image by demanding that the Attorney General of the Federation who is deemed to be privy to this embarrassing decision step aside or is declared persona non grata. The people and in particular the civil society must ensure that this latest rape of our laws does not stand.”
Go to court, Atiku tells Sanusi
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, asked Sanusi to approach the courts to seek redress and challenge his suspension in the interest of constitutionalism and the rule of law, noting that President Jonathan had no powers to suspend the CBN governor.
In a statement, Atiku who cautioned the Federal Government against what he termed, abuse of power following the abrupt way Sanusi was suspended, said: “The President had no power to remove or suspend the CBN Governor in such manner. Silence in the face of such abuse of power by the President of the country was capable of sending the wrong message and setting a dangerous precedent.”
Atiku, a former member of PDP, who recently defected to the APC, recalled that when he became a victim of such abuse of power in the past following his suspension as Vice President by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he went to court to challenge the action and that the Federal High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court ruled that a President cannot suspend a public officer he had no power to sack.
Adeyeye supports suspension
Former spokesperson of Afenifere and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant in Ekiti State, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, hailed Sanusi’s suspension.
Adeyeye in a statement said the suspended CBN Governor had turned himself to an opposition in the government.
Adeyeye said: “We have had CBN Governors in this country and none of them was antagonistic of the Federal Government like Sanusi Lamido.”