22 February 2014, Abuja – The All Progressives Congress, APC, in the Senate have declared the suspension of the CBN boss by President Goodluck Jonathan as illegal and unconstitutional, while calling for the sack of Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Pertroleum Minister.
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos,Friday restrained the police, the Department of State Services, DSS, and other security agencies from arresting the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
The court presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba gave the order after listening to Sanusi’s exparte application brought against the Inspector General of Police, IGP, and the DSS, under fundamental rights.
Sanusi who was dressed in his usual turtle-neck suit arrived the court at about 3pm in two black Jeeps as the matter was heard in chambers.
Buba however, adjourned the substantive suit till February 28, when the other parties would have been put on notice.
The APC Senators said that they have started compiling all the constitutional breaches and flagrant violations of the laws by President Jonathan which their lawyers were scrutinizing for appropriate and necessary action.
They (APC Senators) told the President if he was serious with the issue of financial recklessness as alleged as the reason for firing Sanusi, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke should also be fired for the same reason.
But some Senators including some in the opposition have said that the testimony by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke at the senate investigative hearing by the Senate Committee on Finance had exonerated the petroleum Minister from any allegations.
The APC Senators through the Minority Leader, George Akume in a statement on Friday had flayed the suspension of the CBN governor alleging that the action of President Jonathan was inimical to good governance and the rule of law.
According to the statement, “The nation has yet again been confronted with another act by the President, which is inimical to good governance and the rule of law with the illegal suspension from office of the Governor of Central Bank, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
“While one may not question the prerogative of Mr. President to hire and fire, such actions must be guided by strict observance to laid down processes and in the overriding national interest.
“The suspension of the CBN Governor has raised more questions than it addresses the issue of good governance, accountability and the fight against corruption, especially, coming at a time when there are unresolved issues in the petroleum industry, which is known locally and internationally as a cesspool of corruption.
“The whistle blower who should know it all is being illegally and unconstitutionally suspended to safeguard and protect the perpetrators of corruption in the petroleum industry.”
“Now that the President has acted illegally and unconstitutionally, he should also now act legally and constitutionally by firing the Petroleum Minister and the top management of the NNPC to restore confidence in the sector.
“The President has serially violated the Nigerian Constitution, which he swore to uphold. The consequences of these are grievous. The suspension of the CBN Governor by the President is not only an abuse of power but also a gross violation of the Central Bank Act, 2007.
“Under the provisions of Section 11(2)(f) of the CBN Act, the President can only remove the CBN Governor where his request is supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We condemn in very strong terms this very unfortunate, unjustified, unwarranted and illegal removal of the Governor of Central Bank, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi under the guise of suspension.
The President must stop the persistent violation of Nigerian Laws and impunity in governance.
“We call for the immediate reinstatement of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
Alleged Missing N20b: Findings exonerate Petroleum Minister, group
Meanwhile, the testimony by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke over the controversial missing $20 billion at the investigative hearing organised by the Senate Finance Committee may have absolved the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and the oil ministry from any wrong doing.
From the testimony of the AGF, it was gathered that rather than the big discovery of fraud and mismanagement that necessitated the probe, senators have discovered that the suspended CBN Governor raised false alarm and misled the committee.
The Senate Finance Committee had raised fresh queries over the suspension of the CBN governor following emerging facts which it said contradicted his initial allegation of alleged missing $49.8 billion oil revenue.
The Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led committee had through a memo to CBN specifically demanded that the committee be furnished with detailed information on how much ought to have been paid into the federation account out of the money.
Sanusi had informed the committee that the CBN was of the belief that part of the money realised from the sale of crude oil ought to have been paid to the Federation account.
As a result of contradiction in the branding of figures by the apex bank governor, the committee warned that all claims must substantiated devoid of frivolity.
But in the testimony, Adoke said, “Only the net revenue from upstream petroleum operations of the NPDC should be paid into the Federation Account by the NNPC. In other words, NPDC is required to pay only what amounts to dividend and its crude oil proceeds to the NNPC ( as its holding company) and the NNPC will in turn pay that into the Federation Account.
Consequently, what the NNPC is required to pay into the Federation Account is the ‘net revenue’ as opposed to the gross revenue.”
Mr. Adoke informed that it was instructive to note that by virtue of paragraph 14 to 16 of the First Schedule of the Petroleum Act, CAP.P.10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, LFN, 2004 (NNPC Act) and Regulation 4 of the Petroleum (Drilling and Productions) Regulations 1969 as amended, a holder of an OML or Oil Prospecting License (OPL) can assign its interest provided the consent of the Minister of Petroleum Resources is obtained.
“Furthermore, section 6(1)(C) of the NNPC Act empowers the NNPC to establish and maintain subsidiaries for the discharge of its functions. The NPDC was thus incorporated as a limited liability upstream company of NNPC to carry out its upstream operations as envisaged by the law,” Adoke submitted.
This explanation jolted some members of the committee and one of them said,
“The committee is equally disturbed by the testimonies of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, to the extent that the NNPC did not need to remit all revenues it generates. We need to now ask for what is the exact percentage of the revenue of NNPC should be remitted.”
The Attorney General had declared that despite the constitutional provisions requiring that all revenues be paid into the Federation account, NNPC could still deduct its cost of business.
He said, “Thus, it is my considered view that the provision of section 162 which requires all revenue to be remitted to the Federation Account does not preclude the deduction of NNPC’S expenditure or cost of business.
“This is more so as the federating units odo not contribute to the funding of upstream petroleum operations of the NNPC and its subsidiary.”
The committee was said to be shocked that the presidential directive which the oil ministry was accused of disobeying was never concluded and that it even contained contradictory provisions which make it implementation impossible.
The committee was also unhappy as the case was presented as if it is Dieziani Madueke, the present minister that refused to implement the directive.
A source close to the committee said it was shocked that even late Yardua did not want the planned removal known to the public.
By directing a removal without public announcement, the former president violates the petroleum act which requires prices to be made public
senators on the committee including opposition senators were shocked that Sanusi misled them.
He presented falsehood as facts. It was until we checked that we see the truth. We are disappointed “ a source within the committee said.
*Innocent Anaba & Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Vanguard