Deposed Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido on Thursday maintained that the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) lacks the statutory powers to investigate him.
In his originating summons on a suit he filed against FRCN and its executive secretary at a Federal High Court in Lagos, Sanusi accused the council of bias in its investigations of him, and therefore urged the court to halt the process.
As contained in the suit — filed by his Senior Advocate of Nigeria-lawyers, Professor Yemi Osibajo, Dr Kanyinsola Ajayi and Kola Awodehin — Sanusi requested the court to declare that by constituting itself into investigating body in the manner contained in newspaper advertorials of 24 March 2014, FRCN acted ultra vires.
He also sought a declaration that the conduct, action, decision and conclusion in respect of the plaintiff, particularly as it manifested in a brief note of 7th June 2013 sent to the president, were ultra vires and contravened the rule of natural justice.
His demands also include a declaration by the court that the defendants do not have the powers to conduct the purported investigation as advertised in newspapers, as well as an order restraining the defendants and their agents in any form from conducting any investigation, inquiry, hearing or proceedings whatsoever as advertised in newspapers as the defendants do not have the powers to conduct such investigation.
He further implored the court to set aside and nullify any report, conclusion and recommendation based on any purported investigation conducted as advertised in newspapers.
“The defendants reached conclusions and made far reaching recommendations without giving Sanusi a fair hearing”, his lawyer, Mr. Kola Awodein (SAN) said.
“In those conclusions and decisions they have taken, they have breached his fundamental rights to natural justice, because the plaintiff was not given any opportunity to defend himself before they reached those decisions.
“For instance, FRCN wrongly accused Sanusi of misappropriating N20.2billion in legal and professional fees. Had they given him the opportunity to defend himself, he would have shown how the money was spent”.
Responding through a counter-affidavit and preliminary objection filed and argued on behalf of FRCN by Mr. Adesegun Ajibola (SAN), the defendants disagreed that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the suit, saying the plaintiff has not exhausted the internal mechanism of resolution of grievances before heading for the court.
“The suit, as presently constituted, is premature, incompetent, consequently the court lacks jurisdiction to hear it”, he said.
Defending the main suit, Ajibola maintained that FRCN, through its secretary, issued a note addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan, wherein it expressed its observation on the discrepancies it noticed in the audited financial statement and explanatory note of the CBN.
“Consequently, part of its recommendation was that there was need for thorough investigation of the activities of the CBN”, he went on.
“The investigation panel, other than the decision to invite the plaintiff, has not arrived at any other conclusion in respect of the investigation of the activities of the CBN for the financial year of 2011 and 2012. So the FRCN urges the court to strike out the suit for being misconceived and premature”.
Justice James Tsoho adjourned till 12th May 2014 to deliver judgment on the suit.