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Monday, 31 March 2014
Sanusi’s lawyers write FRCN, warns against continuation of probe
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
The lawyers of the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, governor, Lamido Sanusi, have written to the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, FRCN to warn it against the legal consequences of going ahead with the purported probe.
According to the lawyers, the probe would go against a subsisting court order against such an act.
The embattled CBN governor had been invited before the Council on Thursday, March 27, to answer questions on some aspects of his tenure between 2011 and 2012. However, his counsel, Kola Awodein, a senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, had challenged the invitation. He had written to the Executive Secretary of FRCN, forwarding the originating summons and motion on notice in respect of the application for an interlocutory injunction pending before the Federal High Court, Ikoyi.
In the letter, delivered on Friday, March 28, Mr. Awodein reminded the FRCN that the order of the court did not only challenge the powers of the Council to undertake the investigations into the affairs of the CBN for the specified period, including all transactions and events before that date impacting it, but also the validity of all actions so far taken purportedly in the exercise of its statutory powers.
Mr. Awodein informed the FRCN that the pending matter had already been assigned to Justice Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Lagos pending the commencement of hearing on Friday, April 4.
The letter was copied to the acting governor of the CBN, Stella Alade; the deputy governors, including Kingsley Moghalu and Suleiman Barau; all members of the Board of Directors of the CBN and its Director Legal Services, Simeon Onekutu.
“The position under the law is that where an action is pending before the courts, all matters, actions, processes by any person or authority arising from, relating to or connected therewith must go into abeyance until the determination of the suit by the court. This is the basis of the principle of sub-judice,” Mr. Awodein stated in the letter. “Otherwise, any such action, proceeding or process shall be construed as efforts to overreach the Court and undermine its jurisdiction, which is contemptuous and liable to be set aside by the court.”
He said the issues the application was seeking determination and reliefs on were centred on the validity and constitutionality of the conduct of the investigation. He pointend out that he was compelled to issue the warning following reports in the media that the Council was determined to continue with the investigative process in spite of the court order. He warned that it would amount to subjudice and contempt of the court by the Council to continue either with the investigation; or to do anything or permit anything be done by any party to undermine the process of the administration of justice and the integrity of the court in a manner capable of lowering the entire judicial process in the eyes of right thinking members of the public.
“Be assured that any action taken by, or on account of the FRC in such circumstances is liable to be set aside and reversed by the court,” the letter warned, pointing out that this was without prejudice to any sanctions or penalties the Council may be liable for any contemptuous act.
Despite the announcement on Thursday of the suspension of further proceedings, the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of FRCN, Jim Obazee, had stated that the investigative processes would continue at the CBN office as part of its administrative procedures.
He, however, noted that due to the documents sent in for review by those invited to appear before it, the Council would have to wait and study the court papers before inviting the affected persons as appropriate.