Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday, May 12, barred the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) from investigating the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Justice Tsoho gave the order while delivering judgment in a suit filed by the suspended CBN governor against the FRCN and its Executive Secretary, Jim Osanyade Obase.

The court described the action taken by the FRCN so far as bias, malicious, premeditated, frivolous, deliberately skewed, malafide and abuse of executive power.

The judge also held that there was clear evidence that FRCN?s bid to investigate Sanusi?s tenure at CBN was tainted with bias and motivated by bad faith.

Justice Tsoho?s verdict is coming three months after the President, Goodluck Jonathan suspended Sanusi on allegations of financial recklessness.

Sanusi has denied the allegations, saying he had followed approved procedures while doing his job.

The CBN governor had gone before the court? challenging his invitation to appear before the investigation panel set up by the FRCN.

Sanusi had urged the court to declare that FRCN constituting itself into investigating body in the manner contained in newspapers advertorials of ?March 24, 2014, acted ultra vires, and that the conduct, action, decision, and conclusion in respect of the plaintiff particularly as it manifested in brief note of? June 7, 2013, sent to the President were ultra vires and contravened the rule of natural justice.

He further seeks an order restraining the defendants and their agents in any form from conducting/continue any investigation, inquiry, hearing or proceeding whatsoever, as advertised in newspapers, as the defendants do not have power to conduct such investigation

Sanusi is also asking the court? to set aside and nullify any report, conclusion and recommendation based on any purported investigation conducted as advertised in newspapers.

But in a counter affidavit and preliminary objection filed by FRCN, the council argued that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the suit as the plaintiff had not exhausted the internal mechanism of resolution of grievances before taking the matter before the court.

The FRCN further submitted that the investigation panel, other than the decision to invite the plaintiff, had not arrived at any conclusion in respect of the investigation of the activities of the CBN for the financial years of 2011 and 2012 .

In his judgment, Justice Tsoho said that although the FRCN was saddled with ensuring good governance in financial matters, their posturing showed that they were already prejudiced.

The court also disagreed with FRCN?s argument that their recommendation to the presidency was merely advisory, holding that it was obvious that they had already decided Sanusi?s fate, even before their investigation.

Justice Tsoho held that FRCN?s declaration in a briefing note dated?June 7?and submitted to President Jonathan was ultra vires (outside) their powers as contained in the FRCN Act, 2011.

He said the defendants, including FRCN?s Executive Secretary, having reached a conclusion as to Sanusi?s culpability as governor of CBN, as indicated in the briefing note and newspaper publications, could no longer conduct any investigation on the same matter.

?The language of the briefing note (transmitted by the FRCN to the presidency) conveys a sense of the defendant desperately goading the presidency to deal with the plaintiff,? Judge Tsoho said.

?The plaintiff submitting himself for investigation (by FRCN) is like the cockroach finding itself in the midst of fowls. Such a cockroach cannot be innocent,? he added.

Justice Tsoho said the defendants went against the principles of natural justice by not giving Sanusi the chance to defend himself before they issued a report on the basis of which he was suspended.

The court noted that the CBN chief was not called upon to make representation at any panel before his suspension.


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