Suspended CBN gov’s meeting with opposition leaders in London upsets president. Beyond his criticism of Federal Government’s policies and revelation on the $20 billion missing oil money, the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, actually ran into trouble over his romance and funding of opposition leaders.
A source in the Presidency told New Telegraph that President Goodluck Jonathan was miffed over Sanusi’s activities with the opposition. The source noted that in the build up to the 2011 presidential election, Sanusi made donation to the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Major- General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
Jonathan was said to have invited Sanusi to the Villa to explain the motive behind the donation to Buhari’s presidential campaign. It was learnt that Sanusi admitted that he only made a N20 million donation to Buhari to advance his course because of the relationship the former Head of State had with his family, especially his uncle. But a source said the President had evidence of Sanusi donating more than N100 million to Buhari’s campaign.
“Ever since the donation was made, the president has been mindful of Sanusi’s political inclination. We see him as more of opposition than being part of the government. If a sitting Central Bank governor could be making donation to a presidential candidate in an election, then you should begin to suspect,” a presidential aide told New Telegraph.
Sanusi was also accused of awarding contracts to opposition leaders. A presidential aide gave two instances of such contracts. One, a N5 billion contract was reportedly awarded to a former minister and leading opposition figure. Another set of contracts worth over N15 billion were also awarded to a former governor. The former state chief executive was instrumental to Sanusi’s appointment and that of another head of government financial institution during the late Umaru Yar’Adua administration.
“This is seen as a measure to fund the opposition leaders against the president. There are several of such instances,” a source said Also, Jonathan was said to have given up on Sanusi after security report indicted him of providing sensitive documents to those perceived as “enemies of government.”
The report also provided details of several nocturnal meetings Sanusi held with opposition leaders both in Nigeria and abroad. The details of a meeting Sanusi held with Buhari, a former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other opposition leaders in London recently were leaked to the president. “The details of the meeting and several of such showed that the suspended CBN governor was on a mission to bring the government down. You can’t be an employee of government and at the same time you want to bring it down. You have to be shown the way out.
More so that he has a case to answer over the running of the apex bank,” an aide of the president said. Sanusi has remained in Lagos since his suspension last week. It was learnt that prominent opposition figures have been providing support for him and holding meetings with him. On the timing of Sanusi’s suspension after he had revealed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) could not account for $20 billion oil money, another source in the Presidency said “government can act anytime, irrespective of the circumstances.” The source noted that Sanusi has been under probe for almost two years now. He said the probe into Sanusi’s activities started from complaints by senior officials of the apex bank “who felt that Sanusi’s style of administration, especially financial recklessness might hurt the economy.”
When the Financial Reporting Council started the probe, Sanusi reportedly made himself unavailable for interrogation and scrutiny. “Instead, he was travelling all over the world receiving awards to distract the government,” a source said. The Council was said to have relied heavily on the documents provided by senior officials of the apex bank to carry out the probe. “When Sanusi knew the probe was inevitable and there were overwhelming evidence to nail him, he started sending emissaries to the president. Those he sent are statesmen who the president could not ignore.
“This is why the presi-dent tarried for so long before finally suspending him from the office, not that the president acted based on the disclosure about the missing oil money,” an aide of the President told our correspondent. It was further learnt that when Sanusi realised that the government was after him, he started compiling dossiers about the wrongs in the Jonathan administration. The presidential aide told New Telegraph that the Federal Government quickly moved against Sanusi when it realised that the suspended CBN governor was in the process of releasing more documents that have collateral damage on the administration.
“The more you keep him in the office, the more he damages the reputation of the administration. So, he has to go. You can’t live in a glass house and be throwing stones, “the source said. It was gathered that the government is also subjecting all contracts awarded during the tenure of Sanusi to critical scrutiny, to examine if they followed due process and ascertain any breach of extant law.
New Telegraph reliably learnt that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke; officials of the Ministry of Finance and other top government officials have met and concluded plans to send the report of the Financial Reporting Council to either the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) for further investigation.
A senior official of the EFCC said the anti-graft agency is awaiting correspondence from the Presidency to move into the case. If the plan is carried out to the letter, Sanusi may soon be arraigned at a Federal High Court in Abuja over the report. The suspended CBN governor has denied any wrongdoing. On Friday, he secured a court injunction against arrest. The Council report was based on Sanusi’s response to query issued to him by Jonathan.
In the report of the Council, Sanusi spent N1.257 billion for lunch for policemen and private guards in 2012. Also, bogus payments to airlines for currency distribution were made and held N1.423 billion balance for an unidentified customer since 2008. Also, the Council accused Sanusi of making approvals for ambiguous payments to invoices tagged as “Centre of Excellence” and “Contribution to Internal National Security.” The report noted that the CBN under Sanusi claimed to have paid N38.233 billion to the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Plc in 2011 for the “printing of bank notes”.
But the entire turnover for the year of the company was N29.370 billion for the year. The Council described Sanusi’s response to the President’s query as “a clear display of incompetence, nonchalance, fraud, wastefulness, abuse of due process and deliberate efforts to misrepresent facts.” In addition, the report accused Sanusi of violating financial regulations, especially carrying out mandate with financial implications not related to CBN’s.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the Presidency of trying to use the suspension of Sanusi as CBN Governor to divert attention from the allegation of missing $20 billion in oil funds. The party said the way the presidency has been campaigning to malign Sanusi, using the report of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, shows that it is working hard to sweep the issue of the missing funds under the carpet and punish Sanusi for daring to expose the fraud. Interim National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this in a statement yesterday.
“Irrespective of the tepid and unconvincing denial by the Presidency, it is clear that the main reason the presidency moved against Sanusi is because he blew the lid on the $20 billion funds which the NNPC allegedly failed to remit to the Federation Account.
“Fortunately, discerning Nigerians are not hoodwinked by the Presidency’s choreographed mudslinging against a whistle blower, and the sponsored campaign that amounts to shooting the messenger just because his message is not palatable. “While the Presidency has chosen to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians over the missing oil funds, we call on the National Assembly to get to the bottom of Sanusi’s allegation and save Nigerians from a rapacious and a rampaging cabal that is hell bent on bringing Nigeria to its knees through runaway corruption,” APC said.
The party said the questions that are begging for answers include: What happened to the missing $20 billion? If indeed a part of the funds has been used for kerosene subsidy, who authorized the spending of money that was not appropriated, in violation of the nation’s constitution? Who reinstated the subsidy that had been removed by a presidential directive? If $8.76 billion of the missing money was used for kerosene subsidy, who and who are the beneficiaries, since it is clear that Nigerians are not enjoying any subsidy on kerosene for which they are shelling out at least N150 per litre? APC re-stated its earlier stand that Sanusi’s suspension is unlawful and that it is another dangerous turn in the Jonathan administration’s journey of impunity, lawlessness and double standard.
Mohammed said the drop in the value of the Naira and the fact that the banking sector and other stocks spiralled into the negative, in the aftermath of the ego-driven and illegal suspension of Sanusi, have shown the dangers inherent in politicizing an office that should be insulated from political pressure Former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, also decried the suspension of Sanusi from office, accusing the Jonathan-led administration of paying lip-service to the anti-corruption war.
His words: “It is strange and inconceivable that everyone who has condemned corruption or attempted to fight against it in Nigeria ended up being disgraced, removed or forced to flee for his safety like: Nuhu Ribadu, El-Rufai, Farida Waziri and now Sanusi.
“On the other hand, convicted criminals on corruption-related offences receive Presidential pardon and unrepentant ex-Militants are appointed Presidential advisers. Mallam Sanusi had only about four months to disengage as CBN governor, but in order to ridicule him, President Jonathan released a letter suspending him from office, while on official engagement in Niger Republic. But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has thrown its weight behind Jonathan on Sanusi’s suspension.
The party, in a statement made available to New Telegraph yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, also condemned the politicisation of the suspension by individuals and groups. The party stated that it has “implicit confidence in President Jonathan and his efforts to ensure the stability and growth of the economy.” It stated emphatically that the decision was in the best interest of the nation.
While dismissing insinuation that the action was to silence a whistle blower and promoting corruption, the PDP said the findings of the Financial Reporting Council revealed series of administrative recklessness in the CBN which are “very weighty and cannot be swept under the carpet of politics and sentiments.”