Diezani admitted misappropriating Nigeria’s N577 billion, yet Jonathan did nothing – Sanusi says

Deziani Alison-Madueke is one of President Jonathan's favourite ministers.

Sanusi reacts to his suspension.

The suspended Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, Lamido Sanusi, has berated President Goodluck Jonathan’ attitude to corruption, saying his exposure of financial misappropriation by Nigeria’s state owned oil firm, NNPC, put him in the bad books of the president.

Mr. Sanusi gave an example of the president’s attitude to corruption, saying no action was taken against the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, despite that she openly admitted spending $3.5 billion (N577 billion) of Nigeria’s money without budgetary approval.

Mr. Sanusi said this while reacting to his suspension by President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday.

Speaking on the Hausa service of the Voice of America shortly after his suspension was announced, Mr. Sanusi said he knew that was how he would end his tenure as the CBN governor because of his frequent clashes with the government, the most recent and controversial of which was his allegation against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

Mr. Sanusi had, on September 25, 2013, written a memo to President Goodluck Jonathan alleging that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, systematically diverted funds, being crude oil sales proceeds, between January 2012 and July 2013. In the letter, Mr. Sanusi said that for all crude oil sales within the period, the NNPC paid only 24 per cent proceeds into the federation account, and diverted the remaining 76 per cent.

This led to reactions from the NNPC, the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; and the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, all countering the amount allegedly diverted.

During a recent Senate hearing into the missing funds, Mr. Sanusi said after the CBN reviewed its figures, it found out that the unremitted misappropriated fund was $20 billion (N3.3 trillion).

In his Thursday interview with the Voice of America, the CBN governor raised what he described as the laissez-faire attitude of President Jonathan administration towards the misappropriation of funds.

“For instance the Minister of Petroleum spoke on live Television before the National Assembly admitting that she spent $3.5 billion of tax payers’ money on kerosene subsidy without budgetary approval, but nothing was done,” he said.

Mr. Sanusi was referring to claims by Mrs. Alison-Madueke that a large amount of the missing funds was used to subsidise kerosene.

The CBN Governor, however, stated that he had no regret over his actions while in office.

“Whoever knows me knows that left to me, I would have left a long time ago because of the frequent clashes we’ve been having with the government,” he said.

He maintained that the President had no power under the laws of Nigeria to suspend him. He said although he was not interested in remaining in office, he would challenge the decision of Mr. Jonathan in court.

“I have no intention of going back to work, and I am not interested in going back, but we will go to court to find out if the president has the power or not to suspend a governor of the Central Bank. If that is not done, a CBN governor in the future will not be able to perform his duties effectively knowing that a president can easily suspend him,” he said.

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He said his decision to challenge the suspension was in the best interest of the Central Bank as well as the nation as a whole.

The president’s spokesperson, Reuben Abati, had announced the suspension on Thursday morning, adding that the CBN governor should hand over to the most senior Deputy Governor of the Bank, Sarah Alade.

Mr. Abati announced that Ms. Alade would serve as Acting Governor until the conclusion of ongoing investigations into alleged breaches of enabling laws, due process and mandate of the Central Bank by Mr. Sanusi.

The president has also nominated Godwin Emefiele, the Managing Director of Zenith Bank, as the substantive CBN governor, when Mr. Sanusi’s tenure ends in June.

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