The Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, FRCN, has released a damning report on the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under its embattled Governor, Lamido Sanusi.
Inside the 13-page report which was made available to the media Friday, the council made far reaching allegations of financial impropriety against the suspended CBN governor.
The FRCN report is said to have been based on Mr. Sanusi’s response to a query by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013, over the regulatory bank’s spendings.
Mr. Jonathan had on Thursday ordered the suspension of Mr. Sanusi and directed him to hand over to Sarah Alade, the most senior Deputy Governor of the bank.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, while announcing the suspension of the CBN governor, said Mr. Sanusi committed acts of financial recklessness and misconduct that are inconsistent with the vision of the apex bank.
Mr. Abati’s statement reads, “Having taken special notice of reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies, which indicate clearly that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure has been characterized by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct which are inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline;
“Being also deeply concerned about far-reaching irregularities under Mallam Sanusi’s watch which have distracted the Central Bank away from the pursuit and achievement of its statutory mandate; and
“Being determined to urgently re-position the Central Bank of Nigeria for greater efficiency, respect for due process and accountability, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has ordered the immediate suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi from the Office of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
The report of the Council cited by Mr. Abati, claimed that Mr. Sanusi spent a whopping N1.257 billion for lunch for policemen and private guards in 2012.
The Council also alleged that Mr. Sanusi made bogus payments to airlines for currency distribution as well as held an account balance of N1.423 billion for an unidentified customer since 2008.
The Council described Mr. 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.”
Its also accused the apex bank governor of violating financial regulations and carrying out activities with financial implications not related to the CBN’s mandate.
Other crimes allegedly committed by Mr. Sanusi, according to the Council, included approval of billions of naira in ambiguous payments to invoices referred to as “Centre of Excellence” and “Contribution to Internal National Security,” and the CBN’s claim that it paid N38.233 billion to the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Plc in 2011 for the “printing of bank notes” whereas the turnover of the entire printing and minting company group is N29.370 billion.
In view of its findings, the Council urged the President to exercise the powers conferred on him by Section 11 (2) (f) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 or invoke Section 11 (2) (c) of the said Act and cause the Governor and the Deputy Governors to cease from holding office in the CBN and also direct the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria to carry out a full investigation of the activities of the CBN.
Mr. Sanusi is yet to react to the allegations, but his aides say the allegations were false and concocted to smear the CBN Governor.
But an economist, Bismarck Rewane, said the Council should beam its anti-corruption searchlight on other institutions in the country and not stop at the CBN.
In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Rewane said, “The Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria should look at corruption in every institution in the country if it must be taken serious by Nigerians.
“I would have taken them more seriously if they had exposed corruption in about a 100 other institutions of government in the country and not just stop at the CBN.
“If the Council does not investigate the cases of corruption in many other institutions of government, then it would be seen to be selective in its anti-corruption drive. They cannot claim to be fighting corruption in one sector when almost every sector of the nation’s economy is riddled with corruption and official recklessness.”
Also speaking on the issue, fiery Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, said Mr. Sanusi remained the substantive governor of the CBN, even when he is under suspension.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Falana faulted the move by the President to appoint a new governor for the apex bank.
He said, “The law presumes that Mr. Sanusi is still the substantive Governor of the CBN even when he has been placed on suspension. There is no basis for the appointment of a new governor for the apex bank until the end of Mr. Sanusi’s tenure or removal from office through the Senate.
“Having regard to his irreconcilable differences with the Jonathan administration on the operation and management of the Federation Accounts, Mr. Sanusi ought to have voluntarily resigned his appointment. But he decided to remain in office while taking the administration to the cleaners at the tail end of his 5-year tenure.
“To that extent, Mr Sanusi has himself to blame for his suspension from office on account of alleged financial recklessness.”
Mr. Falana, however, urged Mr. Jonathan to suspend the process for Mr. Sanusi’s replacement by withdrawing the new nomination he forwarded to the Senate on the grounds that Nigeria cannot have a suspended governor and a substantive apex bank governor at the same time.
Alternatively, Mr. Falana advised the Senate to put off any debate on the fresh nomination sent to it, pending the end of the tenure of the suspended governor.
Continuing, Sanusi said, “The diversion of huge public funds from the Federation Account alleged by Mr. Sanusi should not be swept under the carpet. At the same time, the allegations of financial recklessness leveled against Mr. Sanusi ought to be investigated without any delay.
“Once again, I call on the Federal Government to allow the Auditor-General of the Federation to audit the accounts of the CBN and the NNPC by virtue of section 85 of the Constitution.
“The reports of such audit should then be submitted to the National Assembly for necessary action in line with the provisions of section 85(4) of the Constitution.”