1. Does CBN have the right to direct banks not to terminate employee appointments?

Generally, CBN as a regulator is empowered by the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 1991 (as amended) to make such regulations for the regulation of the affairs of Banks.


However, the regulation may not save employees considering that employer-employee relationship is more contractual than regulatory. This position is further supported by the principle in labour law which was recently reemphasized in the case of OKWARA AGWU & ORS V. JULIUS BERGER NIGERIA PLC (2019) LPELR-47625(SC) that one cannot force a willing employee on an unwilling employer and vice versa.


It is imperative to note that the regulation did not state that bank employees cannot be sacked, banks only need the approval of the CBN. The question that begs for an answer is: on what ground(s) will the CBN approve or reject the request of a bank to lay off its employees due to the effects of the pandemic?


Having considered the above, the regulation may not entirely protect employees from being laid off by their employers.



  1. Can an employee guilty of fraud hide under this regulation to avoid being sacked by the bank?

In interpreting laws, the courts do not only rely on the provisions of the law or regulation, the law looks further into the intention of that law. What mischief does the law intends to cure? Looking at the CBN press release of 3 May, 2020, it would appear that the intention of the CBN was to create a regulation protecting employees from being laid off due to the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is safe to conclude that any other reason to lay off employees may not necessarily require the approval of the CBN considering that the regulation only applies to laying off due to the economic pressure from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.


In line with the 3 May, 2020 press release, an employee is only protected from being laid off without CBN approval if the reason why such employee was laid off is premised on the bank’s inability to keep the employee due to the economic pressure resulting from the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.


In conclusion, any employee guilty of fraud cannot hide under this regulation as the regulation was not created for this purpose. Moreover, the law of equity forbids that a person profits from his own wrong. He who must come to equity must come with clean hands. It would thus be unequitable for an employee guilty of fraud to rely on the regulation to prevent being laid off without CBN’s approval.

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