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HomeExecutive BriefLegal battle brewing as President Tinubu's CBN appointments face scrutiny

Legal battle brewing as President Tinubu’s CBN appointments face scrutiny

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By Oludare Mayowa

President Bola Tinubu on Friday announced the name of Olayemi Cardoso as the new governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), while also naming four others as deputy governors in acting capacity until their appointments are approved by the National Assembly.

The names of the new deputy governors of the CBN, as listed in a statement issued by presidential spokesman Ajuri Ngelale, include Emem Nnana Usoro, Muhammad Sani Abdullahi Dattijo, Philip Ikeazor, and Bala M. Bello.

The presidential statement was silent on the fate of the substantive governor, Godwin Emefiele, and his deputies under the new dispensation.

What is the legal implication of the appointment of a new governor for the Central Bank by President Tinubu, especially with the incumbent governor, Godwin Emefiele, still on suspension and not removed?

Already, some Nigerians have started raising questions about the veracity of the president naming a new governor for the regulatory body when the incumbent is yet to be officially removed from office.

In the case of the president’s nomination of four new deputy governors for the regulatory bank, there is also an allusion to a breach of the process by the president since the current deputy governors’ tenure is yet to expire, they have not resigned their positions, and the government has declared their positions vacant in accordance with the law.

READ ALSO: Tinubu names Yemi Cardoso to lead CBN in major shake-up, ends tenure of 4 deputies

Adamu Abdulkadir, who claims to be a lecturer and financial expert, wrote on his X handle on Friday that the incumbent CBN governor would have to be impeached first before another could be named to his position.

“The only thing is that the former CBN governor was suspended until and unless his tenure expires or the Senate impeaches him, no substantive CBN governor will be employed, and Emefiele’s tenure ends on June 3, 2024. All eyes are on the Senate. And to impeach the CBN government, a 2/3 majority is a must,” Abdulkadir wrote.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act, 2007, which governs the operations of the CBN, outlines the conditions and procedures for the removal of the Governor and Deputy Governors of the CBN.

According to the Act, the Governor and Deputy Governors of the CBN can be removed from office under certain circumstances, which include:

  1. Incapacity: If the Governor or Deputy Governor becomes incapable of effectively performing their duties due to reasons of health or for any other reason,
  2. Misconduct: If the governor or deputy governor is found guilty of serious misconduct in relation to their duties,
  3. Conviction: If the governor or deputy governor is convicted of a criminal offense involving dishonesty or fraud,

The Act also stipulates the procedure for removal, which involves the following steps:

  1. Recommendation: The President of Nigeria, based on the advice of the Minister of Finance, may recommend the removal of the Governor or Deputy Governor to the National Assembly.
  2. National Assembly Approval: The National Assembly, which consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives, must approve the recommendation by a two-thirds majority vote.
  3. Presidential Assent: If the National Assembly approves the recommendation, the President must give his assent to the removal.

It’s important to note that the process for removal is designed to be thorough and involves both the executive and legislative branches of the Nigerian government to ensure transparency and accountability. This process helps safeguard the independence and integrity of the Central Bank.

What the enabling act of the regulatory bank simply envisages is that the president has the power to terminate the appointment of a central bank governor if he gets a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

With the announcement of a new governor for the regulatory bank, has the president breached the provisions of the CBN Act?

Should the president have announced the names of replacements for sitting deputy governors without any of them voluntarily resigning their positions or being impeached by the National Assembly as stipulated by the enabling Act?

Has the president secretly commenced the process of removing the substantive CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, and four of his deputies, Folashodun Shonubi, who is acting as governor since Emefiele was suspended in June, Aishah Hamad, Kingsley Obiora, and Edward L. Adamu?

Though it is being speculated that both Emefiele and his deputies have submitted their resignation letters to the presidency as part of a plea bargain against prosecutions, many Nigerians are awaiting further clarifications on that.

The next few days could bring out substantial evidence against or in favor of the presidential action of naming a new occupier to the topmost position in the CBN without substantially complying with the enabling Act.

(Contact; omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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