President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has suspended Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with immediate effect.
The suspension is sequel to the ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the financial sector of the economy.
Mr Willie Bassey. Director of Information in the office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said in a statement on Friday that Mr Emefiele has been directed to immediately hand over the affairs of his office to the Deputy Governor (Operations Directorate).
Mr Folashodun Shonubi, Deputy Governor, Operations Directorate, has been directed to take over from Emefiele and act as the Central Bank Governor pending the conclusion of investigation and the reforms.
Reports say that the suspended CBN governor has finally been arrested by Department of State Service (DSS) which had been on his trail since last year.
Prior to Emefiele’s suspension, the DSS, on December 7, 2022, in an exparte application with reference no: FHC/ABJ/CS/2255/2022, sought an order to arrest the CBN Governor.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice J.T Tsoho, however, refused to grant the application of the DSS.
Some of the allegations peddled against Emefiele included funding Unknown gunmen, ESN and IPOB with money he raised for his failed presidential bid last year and funds diverted from government coffers.
Others are the mismanagement of Nigeria’s social investment program (NISRAL and the Anchor Borrowers Scheme); illegal economic crimes of National security dimension and money laundering.
He has also been accused of unwholesome activities through proxies, round tripping, conferment of financial benefits to self and others, threat to National Security, criminal conspiracy to divert government resources and terrorism financing.
The suspended governor cannot be summarily removed as governor without following the due process as contained in Section 11 of the Central Bank Act 2007.
The section defines the conditions upon which a central bank governor can be removed from office.
According to the act the president has the power to terminate the appointment of a central bank governor if he gets two-thirds majority of the Senate.
He can also be removed if he is convicted of a criminal offence by a court of competent jurisdiction for traffic offences.
“The Governor, Deputy Governor or Director shall cease to hold office in the Bank if he becomes of unsound mind or, owing to ill health, is incapable of carrying out his duties: is convicted of any criminal offence by a court of competent jurisdiction except for traffic offences or contempt proceedings arising in connection with the execution or intended execution of any power or duty conferred under this Act or the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act.” CBN act states.
The Governor can also be removed if he “is guilty of a serious misconduct in relation to his duties under this Act; disqualified or suspended from practising his profession in Nigeria by order of a competent authority made in respect of him personally; Becomes bankrupt.”
The CBN Act also gives the Presidency power to terminate the appointment of the CBN but it is dependent on lawmakers’ backing.
“The CBN Governor can be removed by the President, Provided that the removal of the Governor shall be supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed.”
The Acting CBN governor, Mr Shonubi, holds double Master Degree respectively in Business Administration and Mechanical Engineering, from University of Lagos. He is a resourceful banker with over 30 year’ s professional experience.
Prior to his appointment as Deputy Governor in the Central Bank of Nigeria, he was the Managing Director/CEO in the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System PLC from 2012 – 2018.
Prior to his appointment as the Managing Director NIBSS PLC, Mr. Shonubi was Executive Director, Information Technology and Operations at Union Bank of Nigeria Plc; a member of the Board of Union Homes and Director, Information Technology and Corporate Services in Renaissance Securities Nigeria limited, with responsibility for the Group’ s IT infrastructure in Africa.
Between 1999 and 2007, he worked in MBC International as Deputy General Manager and supervised their IT operational platforms, served in First City Monument Bank Limited as Vice President and in Ecobank Nigeria Limited as Executive Director.
Mr. Shonubi also had a stint with Citibank Nigeria Limited as its Head, Treasury Operations (1990-1993).
He has served on a number of sub-committees of the Bankers’Committee, including the Ethics and Professionalism sub-committee.
Meanwhile, Dr Muda Yusuf, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), says the suspension of Mr Emefiele as the CBN Governor is not a surprise.
Yusuf said in Lagos that the suspension showed that “President Bola Tinubu’s administration is at variance with the policy disposition of the CBN under Emefiele.
“The monetary and foreign exchange policy thrusts of President Tinubu’s administration are at variance with the policy disposition of the CBN under Emefiele.
“President Tinubu was very clear in his inaugural speech about his resentment of some current CBN policies such as the multiple exchange rate and the Naira redesign policy.
“The president also hinted of a house cleaning plan for the CBN.
“It is impractical to reform the apex bank and review some of its major policies with Mr Emefiele remaining on seat as governor.”
According to Yusuf, it is therefore logical that CBN governor be advised to proceed on suspension.
“The truth is that there is a major compatibility issue. The parting of ways was inevitable.”
He said that the brazen involvement of the CBN governor in partisan politics was an aberration and most unbecoming.
According to him, it was damaging to the credibility of the CBN and the reputation of the governor himself.