Hearing in the suit instituted by the suspended Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to challenge the powers of President Goodluck Jonathan to suspend him comes up on March 12 as a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, Wednesday, refused his application to be reinstated as the CBN governor on the ground that it would be unfair to grant such an application without affording the respondents a hearing.
The embattled CBN Governor had filed the application on February 24, asking the court to make an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from obstructing, disturbing, stopping or preventing him in any manner whatsoever, from performing the functions as the CBN Governor and enjoying in full, the statutory powers and privileges attached to the office.
Maintaining that any delay might cause irreparable and serious damage and mischief on him in the exercise of his statutory duties as the CBN governor, Sanusi urged the court to expeditiously grant his interlocutory application.
However, Justice Kolawole in refusing the application said he was of the view that the court had not only the judicial powers to declare the suspension unlawful but to order that the plaintiff be returned to perform his duties as the CBN governor.
The judge also said that the court could also, even where the tenure had lapsed order the defendants to pay the plaintiffs such remunerations and allowances on the basis that the plaintiff suspension also carried with it the plaintiff’’s stoppage of remuneration and allowances.
According to Justice Kolawole, it is unsafe, judicially speaking, to embark on far reaching interim orders which have all the attributes of a mandatory injunction without accord the defendant a hearing.
Pondering on the reliefs sought by Sanusi, the trial judge said he was constrained to grant the plaintiff’s motion ex parte.
He however said that another issue he would like to raise when defendants have been duly served with the originating summons and motion on notice was whether in the light of the third alteration Act number 20 of the constitution of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, whether the Federal High Court still has the jurisdiction to entertain issues dealing with employment, notwithstanding the questions the plaintiff had set down for determination in his originating summons.
The court therefore refused the plaintiff’s motion ex parte and directed that the motion be served on the defendants.
He also ordered that the plaintiff should serve the originating summons on the defendants together with the motion on notice as the court adjourned the matter to March 12.
The suspended CBN Governor had supported his application with a nine-paragraphed affidavit and two exhibits attached and marked Exhibit AA1 and AA2.
Exhibit AA1 was a copy of a letter dated June 2009, titled appointment as Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria.
By Exhibit AA1, the plaintiff was advised on his office as the Governor of CBN acknowledging that as the Governor of CBN, he is governed by the Central Bank Act number 7 of 2007 and other terms of service applicable in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Exhibit AA2 is a letter dated February 19 addressed to the plaintiff by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the federation, titled suspension from office advising the plaintiff on his suspension from office, the exhibit is pursuant to the relief being sought before the court.
Sanusi, in the suit filed by his lawyer led by Chief Kola Awodein (SAN), told the court that his interlocutory application was necessary because of the issues raised in the suit and that delay might cause irreparable and serious damage and mischief to him in the exercise of his statutory duties as the CBN Governor.
He urged the court to exercise its discretion in his favour by granting the interlocutory injunctions, saying the president’s continuing unlawful interference with the management and administration of the CBN, unless arrested, posed grave danger for Nigeria’s economy and justified the court granting his application which would result in maintaining status quo ante bellum, that is, for his return to his office as the governor of the CBN.
In the affidavit deposed to in support of his application, Sanusi said in the course of his duties as the CBN governor, he discovered certain discrepancies in respect of amounts repatriated to the federation account from the proceed of crude oil sales between the period of January, 2012 and July, 2013 and that he expressed concern in respect of the said discrepancies and had cause to inform the National Assembly of the said discrepancies because they affected the revenue of the federation and the national economy.
He said the actions of President Jonathan, in purporting to suspend him from office, was aimed at punishing him for these disclosures.
He also stated that he was challenging the president’s power to suspend him from office noting that the president did not approach nor obtain the support of the Senate, based on his discussions with several senators, including Senator Bukola Saraki.
“I have been informed, and I verily believe the information given to me by Senator Bukola Saraki to be true and correct that the Senate did not give the President any support for my purported suspension and removal from office as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria,” he said.
Sanusi further said that the actions of the president in suspending him from office was contrary to provisions of the CBN Act relating to the appointment and removal of the CBN governor and that his purported suspension amounted to unlawful interference in the administration and management of the apex bank and therefore illegal, null and void.
Sanusi therefore urged the court, in the interest of justice, to grant his reliefs and assign the case to a judge.