Penultimate Thursday, the
unthinkable happened. The cerebral governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Sanusi who learnt of his suspension in Niamey, Niger Republic while attending a conference of the West African Currency Zone with other governors of the Central Banks in West Africa received the news of his suspension with a rude shock, just like many other Nigerians. He immediately returned to Lagos only to have his international passport seized by the officials of the Directorate of State Security Service (SSS). He has however, challenged his suspension in the court “to establish once and for all if the president has the powers to do what he had done.”
Sanusi told the cable news network, CNBN in Niamey that,“It has never been my desire to hold on to a job. However, I believe if the CBN governor cannot be removed from office, then he cannot be suspended. He can be qurried, but the exercise of the arbitrary decision to remove him must be challenged.
“If it is not challenged, then from now, the next CBN governor cannot be independent. He can be suspended for any reason, and the independence of the CBN would be totally undermined. It is important to establish the point legally whether this can happen. I do plan to ask the court to confirm if indeed, that authority exists. I will challenge it”.
The apex bank boss, according to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, was suspended because of his alleged financial infractions and recklessness as well as multiple cases of fraudulent practices. The CBN under Sanusi’s watch, was also accused of not maintaining proper book of accounts as prescribed by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). All these charges were based on the 2012 audit report prepared by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), whose existence is becoming known to millions of Nigerians for the first time.
The FRC’s report, which came to the public domain two days after Sanusi’s suspension, further recommended the sack of the CBN governor and his deputies to the President.
Although, the President was careful not to cite any constitutional provision in suspending Sanusi, perhaps knowing fully well that no such provision existed either in the constitution or the CBN Act to back his action, he nonetheless gave indications that his action did not infringe the law.
“There is absolute power by the president to suspend the CBN governor,” he said during a presidential chat last week.
Section 11(7) of the CBN Act, 2007 gives the president powers to remove the CBN Governor, but with a proviso that such removal must enjoy two-third majority approval of the Senate. The Act does not however, contemplate suspension.
Although the President has denied the allegations of political witch-hunt against the CBN governor, the suspension, coming at a time when Sanusi’s weighty allegations against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are still being investigated may likely taint whatever reasons the President adduced for his action.
Sanusi had written to the President accusing the NNPC of not remitting $49.8billion (about three times the nation’s annual budget) to the Federation Account. He, however, later told the Senate Committee investigating the allegations that the unremitted amount was actually $20billion and not $49.8billion earlier mentioned, blaming the CBN’s Reserve Department for misleading him.
Sanusi’s whistle-blowing and his sustained public attacks on the NNPC, widely seen as a conduit pipe and the epicenter of corruption in Africa’s top oil producer, has earned him powerful enemies within government circle.
The unprecedented nature of the CBN governor’s suspension, in the history of Nigeria and perhaps that of most countries of the world, has however, divided the nation along its main fault lines-political, ethnic and religious lines, with the former (politics) appears to be playing a dominating factor.
While government apologists, made up of mostly members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supported Sanusi’s suspension and argued that only few government would have tolerated Sanusi’s arrogant personality and the ‘defiance’ he applied to his brief as CBN governor; critics of Jonathan’s administration, especially the main opposition party- the All Progressives Congress (APC) dismissed the suspension as a political malice, saying it was sheer disrespect to the rule of law and a show of impunity and ingratitude that a person who has brought about sweeping revolution in the banking industry and who should have been commended for exposing the rot in the oil industry could be so vilified.
The House of Representatives fired the first salvo and perhaps set a stage for what has become a political mudslinging among the nation’s major political players.
Shortly after the news of Sanusi’s suspension hit the air waves, the House of Representatives rejected the suspension. Apparently embittered by what the legislators perceived as selective implementation or non-compliance with its resolution against some public officers over corrupt practices, the House mandated its committees on Justice, and Legislative Compliances to compile all resolutions that have indicted any public officer for which President Jonathan had refused to act on, and therefore requested the President to act on them with immediate effect.
The decision which was taken after adopting a motion moved by the Minority Whip, Samson Osagie, was however, preceded by sharp division between APC and PDP members in the House. While the PDP members were in support of the suspension, their counterparts in the APC described the suspension as unconstitutional and antithetical to the nation’s economy more so at a time when the CBN governor raised some concerns about missing funds.
Similar scenario played out at the Senate with the PDP members which constituted the majority voting in support of the suspension and the APC members rejecting the measure.
Acting on an already set stage by their members, the two leading parties in the country toed the party lines in their separate responses to the suspension.
The APC accused the presidency of campaigning to malign Sanusi, using the report of “obscure” Financial Reporting Council (FRC). It also accused President Jonathan of seeking to use the suspension to divert attention and thereby sweeping the alleged $20billion NNPC missing funds under the carpet and punishing Sanusi for daring to expose the alleged fraud.
In a statement issued by the APC Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, the party said, “Irrespective of the tepid and unconvincing denial by the presidency, it is clear that the main reason the presidency moved against Sanusi is because he blew the lid on the $20 billion funds, which the NNPC allegedly failed t o remit to the Federation Account.
“Fortunately, discerning Nigerians are not hoodwinked by the presidency’s choreographed mudslinging against a whistle blower, and the sponsored campaign that amounts to shooting the messenger just because his message is not palatable”.
The PDP in its own reactions, described Sanusi’s suspension as long overdue. It justified both the suspension and the President’s powers to do so, saying he who hires has the power to fire.
The same political mudslinging dominated the reactions of the two factions of the Nigeria’s Governor Forum. While the faction led by the Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi and made up of mostly APC governors, condemned the suspension and called for the forensic audit of NNPC’s account as a way of confirming or refuting Sanusi’s allegations, the Jonah Jang’s faction comprising mainly of PDP governors and Jonathan’s loyalists, lent its support to Sanusi’s suspension, and accused Amaechi’s NGF of playing out APC’s script.
Meanwhile, the Kano Emirate Council, in a statement signed by the Galadima Kano, Alhaji Tijani Hahim, believed Sanusi’s suspension was a deliberate attempt to witch hunt a whistle blower who exposed a monumental fraud in the NNPC.
“As the President has suspended the governor without the recourse to the rule of law, we believed it was a deliberate attempt to witch-hunt him. It is a desperation and impunity at the highest level by the Federal Government,” the council said.
On its own, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) at the end of its emergency meeting last week, cautioned the Jonathan’s government against any harm befalling Sanusi.
Although the presidency wears Sanusi’s sack the gown of a suspension, everything surrounding the suspension indicates the dismissive tone of a sack. In a similar guise of suspension, Justice Ayo Salami (retired) was removed as the President of the Appeal Court by President Jonathan and was not reinstated despite the reinstatement order by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
As a newspaper columnist, Idowu Akinlotan noted recently, “not only was the former CBN boss removed, his temporary and permanent replacements were hastily named with temerity that reeked of political insensitivity and unconstitutionality, and with such absolute lack of grace and class that leaves one wondering how it was possible for Dr Jonathan to demean the Nigerian presidency to such level of pettiness.”
Many questions are however, begging for answers regarding Sanusi’s suspension. Notwithstanding that the presidency hanged the suspension on FRC’s report which indicted the CBN boss of financial misconduct, why did the presidency take this long to fire Sanusi, when the FRC’s report had been submitted to the President since June, last year, if truly the suspension was not connected with the president’s exasperation, arising from the disquieting concern Sanusi raised about financial improprietness in the NNPC? And why did the President spare the NNPC Group Managing Director, Andrew Yakubu and Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke whose agency and ministry are also under investigation? Why didn’t the President also suspend the CBN deputy governors who were also recommended for sack by the FRC? Why did the President not implement several other reports that called for the removal of certain officials of government that were indicted?
While it may take Sanusi more than a mere judicial discharge and acquital to convince his traducers that his integrity is not sullied by any financial impropriety and brashness, it will also take President Jonathan more than a FRC’s report to justify that Sanusi’s suspension was not due to his poking a finger in the President’s eye in the course of allegations against NNPC.
APC: C’River LP Disowns Decampees
The Labour Party (LP) has disowned one Mr. Maurice Ekeng, who claimed to be Chairman of the party in Cross River State, and his purported exco who defected to the All Progressive Congress (APC)
The party, in a press statement made available to newsmen, yesterday, described the action of Ekeng and others as “laughable and unfortunate for an old man who parades himself as an elder of the church”.
The statement signed by Comrade Dr. Ofem Lekam, State Publicity Secretary of the party said, “The attention of the leadership of Labour Party in Cross River State led by Ambassador Ogar Osim as Chairman and Comrade Asuquo Etim as State Secretary has been drawn to publications claiming that the State Chairman and members of his executive have decamped to the All Progressive Congress (APC).
“Mr Ekeng is an impostor who was never made a State Chairman at any Congress. We challenge him to publish the names of his executive, pictures taken in 2021 extra-ordinary NEC meeting in Benin City where the National Chairman, Julius Abure and the Secretary, Alhaji Farouk Ibrahim were elected, as well as that of Home Land Hotel Calabar where the National Leadership represented by the Vice Chairman South South, Prince Reuben Nuka inaugurated the current State Caretaker
“The impostor from all available evidences is a member of APC sponsored to create confusion in a peaceful party of idealists who are making sacrifices in travelling round the nooks and crannies of the state to revive the structures of the party at all level in the state which is already making monumental impact in the state ahead of 2023.
“We want to put it on record that, Labour Party is intact, and is not contemplating merging with All Progressive Congress (APC) and any other political party; rather it is a party to beat come 2023.
“We appeal to the general public to disregard any news making the rounds that the LP Chairman and his executive have decamped, it is the imagination of political jobbers and mischief-makers whose occupation is to sacrifice their integrity and ideology just for peanuts.
“It is also instructive to advise Mr. Bassey Ita serving at APC Secretariat at Marian Road Calabar not to allow the temporary excitement of the moment to cloud his sense of reasoning by accepting people claiming a platform without verification.
“It is pathetic that Mr. Bassey Ita is yet to realize that with Governor Prof. Ben Ayade now as leader of APC CRS, the days of kangaroo administration of APC CRS should have been over by now in Cross River State.”
INEC To Deploy 5,346 Personnel For CVR
INEC said on Monday in Abuja that it would deploy 5,346 personnel to 2,673 registration centres for Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) resuming nationwide on June 28.
Its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the declaration at the presentation of INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED) and online registration portal for the exercise at a meeting he held with media executives.
IVED is an Android tablet to be used in place of the existing Data Capturing Machine used for CVR in previous exercises.
Prof. Yakubu said that before now INEC had 1,446 registration centres where it registered 14. 2 million voters between 2017 and 2018.
“Learning from the experience of what happened, we have now almost doubled the number of those centres.
“Our hope is that unlike 14.2 million we registered in the previous exercise, we are targeting a minimum of 20 million registrants this time. It will take the number of registered voters to about 100 million,’’ Yakubu said.
He said that majority of the 5,346 personnel to be deployed would be INEC officials, while ad-hoc staff would be used where the Commission lacked the required number of personnel.
He said that the Commission was working with stakeholders for the security of personnel and equipment to be deployed.
Yakubu disclosed that the design for both the online portal and IVED were done by INEC engineers, taking into consideration Nigeria’s peculiarity, including weather, for its durability.
He said registrants would be able to know where machines for registration are located via the portal.
He also noted that the Commission was working on ensuring that Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) for internally-displaced persons were reproduced for them so as not to be disenfranchised.
Many would have lost their cards while under siege, he said.
Prof. Yakubu also said that PVCs for newly-registered voters would be produced on quarterly basis after the registration, noting that the list of the registrants would be displayed at the registration units for claims and objections.
Presenting the online portal and IVED, INEC’s Director of ICT, Mr Chidi Nwafor, said that the online portal was designed to serve various needs of eligible Nigerians for the registration.
These, according to Nwafor, include new registration, review of registration, and review of personal details or voting centres, PVCs replacement or collection.
“As a new voter, you can pre-register online, or as a registered voter, you can revalidate your voter registration, request to update your information or transfer your voter registration to another polling unit, Nwafor said.
He said that registrants could register their details online before going to the nearest registration centre selected by them for photographs and finger prints capturing to complete the exercise.
Nwafor said that the portal was designed in a way that once an intending voter completed the online registration, an appointment for physical registration would be generated by the portal for the registrant.
He added that any registrant who could not meet up with the appointed date and time could reschedule the appointment via the same portal.
He said that the portal also made provision for people to contact the Commission in the event of challenges during online registration.
He noted that a registrant had 14 days to complete the online pre-registration and a year to complete the whole process.
He advised registered voters to make use of the portal to identify polling units or centres nearest to them.
Nwafor also assured that the Commission was putting adequate security in place to protect the device and the portal against hacks or cybercrime.
He also said that concerns about underage voter registration would be taken care of as those that registered online would still visit the registration centre before the process could be completed.
The media executives in a communiqué issued after the meeting suggested that the CVR be devolved to INEC LGA Council offices based on thorough appraisal of security situations and related factors.
They also recommended that the CVR be gradually devolved to other designated registration centres nationwide after assessments of security situations and other factors relating to safety of personnel and materials.
They tasked relevant stakeholders, especially political parties, traditional institutions, religious leaders and Civil Society Organisations to mobilise all eligible registrants to participate in the CVR.
PDP NWC Harps On Unity Over Anambra Guber Poll
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC) has called for unity among stakeholders in Anambra state, ahead the June 26 primaries for the state governorship election.
The party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, made the call during the NWC meeting with the party aspirants, leaders and other stakeholders from Anambra, held in Abuja on Monday.
Secondus said the meeting was called to enable the NWC to interact with stakeholders, as elections held off season were always very stormy and tough.
“We are here basically for us to make sure first and foremost that all our leaders and all our aspirants are in unity. It is very important for this trying period and you know the period, we are in,”he said.
Secondus said that unity was key, especially now that the country was passing through challenges including insecurity that must not be taken for granted.
He said the only way to get out of that was to make sure that things were done properly.
“Let there be fairness, equity and justice, which is in deficit in our country; and that is what the PDP stands for.
“We stand for fairness, equity and justice under the rule of law. This is a party that believes that all Nigerians are one. We must live together as brothers and sisters,” he said.
The party chairman said that Anambra was key to the mission of rescuing Nigeria and uniting the country.
“Anambra is the economic key of our country and we must conduct our affairs to show the world that PDP is different and ready to rescue this country.
“That is why we are to interact with leaders of our party, and at the end of this meeting, I think we will go home happy that on Saturday it will be the freest congresses ever that are conducted.
“So, Anambra, we want to advise, we want to call our people, the time to put down ourselves is now.
“This is the time to look at each other. We must not allow both Anambra and our country to fail. We must show that good example.
“You have been leading in several areas, you must lead politically now. Our leaders must be statesmen. They must look beyond an individual and narrow interest.
“It is time for us to look at Nigeria. If we get it wrong, the consequences will be great. It will reflect on other parts of the country,” Secondus said.
Also, PDP National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu, said the meeting was customary anytime PDP had major contests.
Akobundu said the meeting was called to ensure everybody was carried along in the primary to ensure peaceful outcome.
“It is for this reason that the NWC directed to meet with all stakeholders in Anambra.
“This is just a cross section of our quality stakeholders in Anambra that were invited to attend this meeting.
“It is simply to rub minds, have an interactive session and discuss ways and means that we can employ to have hitch-free primary with everybody on board.”
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