Some National Assembly members yesterday said President Jonathan lacked powers to sack Central Bank of Nigeria governor based on provisions of the law. They spoke in reaction to a newspaper story that said the President asked Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to resign, following his allegation of unremitted crude oil funds. Sanusi was reported to have told Jonathan that he would not resign as only the Senate had the powers to remove him with two thirds majority. Speaking to Daily Trust yesterday, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency , Senator Isa Galaudu (PDP, Kebbi), said, "The governor can only be removed by the Senate on recommendation from the President by two-thirds majority vote. It is a constitutional requirement and Sanusi is right." Also, Senator Babafemi Ojudu (APC, Ekiti), said: "If we have a constitutional provision guiding the appointment and removal of the CBN governor, we should keep to that." For his part, Senate spokesman Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia) said the Senate had no position on the dispute, saying, "Why don't you read the law. The law is very clear." Senator Ita Enang (PDP, Akwa Ibom) said the CBN Act should be the guide in this matter. However, Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa (APC, Zamfara) said he will support Sanusi's removal if the president tables that before the Senate . "I will support every move to remove him. Why won't he remove him? Tell me. Tell me one reason. You cannot just be opening your mouth as a public officer and be telling every garbage. A public officer of his standing should know when to talk, when not to talk and when you are going to talk, you should talk on a good authority," he said. A member of the House of Representatives , Rep Babangida Mahuta, said Jonathan "has no proof that it was Sanusi that leaked the letter. So, as far as I'm concerned it is flimsy to ask somebody to resign base on that." Also, Rep Ali Ahmed (APC, Kwara) said "it is unthinkable that a nation will be toiling with the Central Bank governor's position. Whatever they do, there will be repercussion on the economy." However, House spokesman Rep Zakari Mohammed (APC, Kwara) said the lower chamber "as an institution, we don't want to be dragged into this." Lawyers who were contacted also spoke along the same lines with the lawmakers yesterday, saying the President lacked powers to fire Sanusi. Ricky Tarfa (SAN) said even though the President nominates a CBN governor, there are laid out procedures for removing the governor from office. "The President does not have such powers to force him to resign no matter what he has committed," he said. Mr. Abdul Ibrahim said the office of the CBN governor is a tenured one and cannot be tampered with arbitrarily because "the bank is not solely owned by the President." Abuja -based lawyer Peter Odia said the governor's removal "can only be done if you apply the general rule which states that he who appoints, also has the power to fire." Abubakar Malami, SAN said the powers to appoint and remove the CBN governor are that of the President and the Senate and so Jonathan cannot unilaterally remove the governor. Another lawyer, Alhaji Oba Odunlade SAN said: "The reported ground for the President's directive is rather weak, incapable of proof and speculative to command obeisance." Sam Ologunorisa, SAN and Barrister Abubakar Sani also said the president cannot fire the CBN governor unless with the support of two-thirds of the Senate . Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has advised Jonathan to tread softly on the reported plan to force Sanusi out because of the negative impact it would have on the economy. In a statement in Lagos , APC spokesman Lai Mohammed said asking the CBN governor to step down on the basis of an allegation that he leaked the letter he wrote to the President "does not bode well for an economy that is already on crutches." "Our worry here is that the President should not destroy our institutions before he leaves office," he said. Mohammed said the possible repercussions of Sanusi's ouster "include a loss of confidence in the economic management of the country, leading to uncertainty among domestic and foreign investors; as well as pressure on the exchange rate as foreign portfolio investors in government bonds and the stock market make their exit, and the corresponding fall in the value of share prices. "Overall, a protracted standoff between the President and the CBN Governor will spell bad news for economic growth and employment and increase poverty."
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