Nigeria’s Central Bank spends N73mn to renovate governor’s residence

The bank was unable to tender documents to justify its spending.

The Central Bank of Nigeria channeled billions of naira into questionable property works just within years, but surprisingly has no documents to support its spending which also include N73 million for the renovation of the governor’s residence, the House of Representatives public accounts committee has said.

The committee said on Tuesday that the bank spent N23 million on the residence of its governor, while the governor was not living there; and when he wanted to move in within four years, another N50 million was provided for the same refurbishing.

It is not yet clear when the spending were made; or which governor benefitted from the cash splash. The current governor of the bank, Lamido Sanusi, took office in June 2009.

However, within the period, the bank, which has consistently refused tendering its annual budgets to the National Assembly for scrutiny, claimed it also spent a whopping N2.8 billion for the renovation of its Port Harcourt branch.

The bank also claims to have spent another N848 million for the purchase of a property for the National Planning Commission, while another contract awarded at N74 million, was unilaterally reviewed upward to N79.6million, the committee said.

The CBN team, led by its Deputy Governor in charge of Corporate Service, Suleiman Barau, said the building for the National Planning Commission was secured based on a presidential directive.

Yet, for most of the expenditure, the nation’s regulatory bank had no documents to support them. Also, items worth several millions of naira, said to have been supplied to its branch offices, were nowhere to be found, the committee said.

Many of the documents provided by the bank were rejected by the lawmakers who said they bore no official insignia of the top bank.

At a meeting with the House committee on Tuesday, the bank’s head of procurement, I. O. Gbadamosi, said even with a rescheduled meeting, the bank might not be able to lay its hands on some of the documents being requested for especially the ones concerning the official residence of the governor.

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Mr. Gbadamosi told stunned lawmakers that the difficulty was due to the bank’s policy of retaining its archives for only a five-year span.

Pressed further, and threatened with the prospect of an indictment for the bank, Mr. Gbadamosi tried to save his own neck, claiming he was not in the office “when all these happened, I’m only defending the institution.”

The committee chairman, Solomon Adeola, said the committee was not convinced with the various documents presented before the CBN officials as they bore no letter heads of the CBN. He warned that failure to produce the relevant documents within 48hours would attract severe sanctions from the committee.

The committee, however, gave the CBN the option of producing all the relevant documents on all the transactions or, refunding all the amounts involved into the Consolidated Accounts within a stipulated time, as well directing the officials of the National Planning Commission to appear before it next Monday over the purchase of the property.

“We have invited the CBN on several occasions to come defend the queries but they refused and today they came with documents that cannot stand the text of time, we are giving them the last chance after which the Committee will go ahead and rule over their case in accordance with the laws of the land,” Mr. Adeola said.

The bank officials are to return to defend the spending on Monday.

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