Is Emefiele’s Continuous Stay In Office As CBN’s Governor Legal Considering His Partisanship?
This intervention seeks to discuss and determine two interrelated issues. The first issue is whether the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is permitted by law, during his term of office, to engage in partisan politics, become a registered member, an unregistered member or sympathizer of a political party, and/or participate in the primary election of a political party with a view to contesting for an elective political office or securing an appointment into a non-elective political office.
The second issue is whether the incumbent Governor of the CBN who, personally, and through proxies, support groups and allies, is currently running a political campaign to participate in the upcoming presidential primary election of the All Progressive Congress(APC), in order to possibly clinch the ticket of the APC, and for whom an APC Expression of Interest and Nomination Form for the Office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in the sum of One Hundred Million Naira, has been bought (allegedly by millionaire farmers), and who has been confirmed to be a registered member of APC as far back as February 2021, is not guilty of an act of serious misconduct, and not in blatant breach of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the CBN Act and the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, on the grounds of which the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ought immediately to commence proceedings for his removal from office, and for the President to exercise the power to remove him from office forthwith.
In discussing and resolving the formulated twin issues for determination, we must inevitably turn to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, No 7 of 2007, Cap C4, Vol I, Revised Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004, Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Cap. C 15, Vol. II, Revised LFN, 2004, and Public Service Rules, 2008 Edition.Law.
The CBN Act.
Section 1 of the CBN Act establishes the CBN. Section 1 (3) provides that “in order to facilitate the achievement of its mandate under this Act and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, and in line with the objective of promoting stability and continuity in economic management, the Bank shall be an independent body in the discharge of its functions”
Section 7 (1) of the CBN Act provides for the management of the Bank and it states that “the Governor or in his absence, one of the Deputy Governors nominated by him, shall be in charge of the day-to-day management of the Bank and shall be answerable to the Board for his acts and decisions”.
Section 8 (1) of the CBN Act provides that “the Governor and Deputy Governors shall be persons of recognized financial experience and shall be appointed by the President subject to confirmation by the Senate on such terms and conditions as may be set out in their respective letters of appointments”.
Section 9 of the CBN Act provides that “the Governor and the Deputy Governors shall devote the whole of their time to the service of the Bank and while holding office shall not engage in any full or part-time employment or vocation whether remunerated or not, except such personal or charitable causes as may be determined by the Board and which do not conflict with or detract from their full-time duties”.
Section 11 (1) of the CBN Act provides that “a person shall not remain a Governor, Deputy Governor or Director of the Bank if he is – (a) a member of any Federal or Legislative House; or (b) a director, officer or employee of any Bank licensed under the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act.”
Section 11 (2) of the CBN Act provides that:
“the Governor, Deputy Governor or Director shall cease to hold office in the bank if he-
(a) becomes of unsound mind or, owing to ill-health, is incapable of carrying out his duties;
(b) 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.
(c) is guilty of serious misconduct in relation to his duties under this Act
(d) is disqualified or suspended from practicing his profession in Nigeria by order of a competent authority made in respect of him personally;
(e) becomes bankrupt;
(f) is 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.”
Section 11 (3) provides that “the Governor or any Deputy Governor may resign his office by giving at least three months’ notice in writing to the President of his intention to do so and any director may similarly resign by giving at least one month’s notice in writing to the president of his intention to do so.”
The Code of Conduct for Public Officers in the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution; and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
Section 2 of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Cap C 15 Vol. II, Revised LFN 2004 provides that “the aims and objectives of the Bureau shall be to establish and maintain a high standard of morality in the conduct of government business and to ensure that the actions and behaviors of public officers conform to the highest standards of public morality and accountability.”
Section 5 of the CCB&T Act provides that “a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his public duties and responsibilities”.
Section 14 of the CCB&T Act provides that “a public officer shall not be a member of, or belong to, or take part in any society, a membership of which is incompatible with the functions or dignity of his office (See also identical provisions in Paragraphs 1 and 10 respectively, of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers in Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999).
Section 26 of CCB&T Act is the Interpretation Section of the Act. The Section provides that “‘public officer’ means a person holding any of the offices specified in the Second Schedule of this Act”. The said Second Schedule lists public officers for the purposes of the Code of Conduct. Listed in Paragraph 14 are “chairmen and members of the Boards or other governing bodies and staff of the statutory corporations and of companies in which the Federal or any State Government has controlling interests. (See also Paragraph 14 in the list of public officers for the purposes of the Code of Conduct, in Part II of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution).
Section 318 of the Constitution is the Interpretation Section of same. It provides, inter alia, that “ Public Service of the Federation” means the service of the Federation in any capacity in respect of the Government of the Federation, and includes service as- ( c) member of staff of any commission or authority established for the Federation by this Constitution or by an Act of the National Assembly; ( e) staff of any statutory corporation established by an Act of the National Assembly; or ( g) staff of any company or enterprise in which the Government of the Federation or its agency owns controlling shares or interest”
By virtue of Section 1 of the CBN Act, the CBN is wholly owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The CBN is established for Nigeria. It is a government body which has an appointed Board of Directors under Section 6 of the CBN Act, a section which provides that the Board shall consist of, amongst other members, a Governor who shall be the Chairman. See Section 6 (2) (a) of the CBN Act. Under Section 8(2) of the CBN Act, the CBN Governor has a renewable term of five years, not exceeding ten years in two terms. The CBN Governor is an appointed public officer in the public service of the Federation of Nigeria.
Without any doubt, therefore, the CBN Governor is a public officer within the contemplation of, and definition thereto ascribed under Paragraph 14 of the Second Schedule to the CCB&T Act. The CBN Governor, is by law, required and obligated to observe the provisions of the Code of Conduct…
Source: Premium Times