The presidency said it has authorised the hiring of an international audit firm to audit the NNPC.
The Presidency has asked the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Lamido Sanusi, to respond to the charges laid against him, rather than cast aspersion on government.
The Presidency also restated its stance that Mr. Sanusi’s suspension by President Goodluck Jonathan had nothing to do with the alleged $20 billion missing from the national treasury, but was based on allegations of ‘financial recklessness’ levelled against the CBN chief by an appropriate government agency.
Mr. Sanusi had first exposed, in a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan last year, the failure of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to pay about $49.7 billion into the federation account as constitutionally required.
After several reviews of the money, the CBN governor said the actual amount not deposited, and thus missing, is $20 billion.
The CBN governor also recently told the New York Times that he believes his insistence at a meeting with bank chiefs to order a special audit of all Nigerian banks to unravel how the $20 billion was stolen from the country led to his eventual suspension. Mr. Sanusi was suspended nine days after meeting with the bank chiefs.
Such an audit, Mr. Sanusi said, would have exposed how the money was stolen by culpable officials and through which banks. Some bank chiefs present at the meeting confirmed the meeting and the planned audit to New York Times.
The presidency, however, said Mr. Sanusi was not being truthful.
Briefing journalists at the Presidential Villa Abuja on Wednesday, presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, reading from a statement made available to journalists said the presidency decided to join issues with Mr. Sanusi because it believed the CBN boss was spreading falsehood.
Read Mr. Abati’s full statement below
“We have noted with disappointment, the unrelenting attempt by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to falsely portray his recent suspension from office as an attempt by the Presidency to bury his allegation that huge sums of money due to the Federation Account are unaccounted for by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“The Presidency wishes to reaffirm that Mallam Sanusi’s suspension has absolutely nothing to do with his unproven and inconsistent claim that $49.8 Billion, $12 Billion or $20 Billion is missing from the national treasury.
“As was clearly stated in the letter suspending him from office and confirmed by President Goodluck Jonathan in his last Presidential Media Chat, Mallam Sanusi’s suspension was wholly based on the need for him to step aside while the weighty charges of financial recklessness, gross misconduct and persistent disregard for laid down rules and regulations in the management of the Central Bank made against him by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and others are properly investigated.
“It is most unfortunate that instead of trying to provide some reasonable response to the clear and unambiguous query of his official conduct as Governor of the Central Bank, Mallam Sanusi has cynically chosen to whip up public sympathy for himself and anger against the Federal Government by deliberately misleading unwary Nigerians and the international community into believing the falsehood that he is being punished for exposing corruption.
“In recent days, the suspended CBN Governor has, following in the footsteps of others who have an axe to grind with the government, taken to spreading his false claims and allegations through gullible foreign media correspondents, telling them among other things that his threat to force commercial banks to open up their books to unravel the whereabouts of the “missing” funds whether $49.8 Billion, $12 Billion or $20 Billion, ultimately led to his suspension.
“He also continues to make the mischievous claim that the government is somehow involved in a scam to divert huge sums of money from the Federation Account through the misappropriation of kerosene subsidy funds.
“Mallam Sanusi’s allegations are patently untrue. But Government is making no effort to bury them as he falsely claims. Relevant committees of the National Assembly are still investigating the claims and the suspended CBN Governor remains free to give evidence before them in support of his allegations.
“Furthermore, in keeping with its avowed commitment to full transparency, openness and accountability in governmental affairs, the Federal Government has authorized the engagement of reputable international firms for the recommended forensic audit of NNPC accounts.
“The Presidency condemns Mallam Sanusi’s resort to playing politics with serious national issues. His suggestion that the phantom missing funds may have been diverted to fund campaigns for next year’s general elections is mischievous, irresponsible and designed to incite other political parties and members of the public against the Federal Government.
“The claim which amounts to cheap blackmail against the government and was clearly made in furtherance of a selfish personal agenda is most unbecoming of someone who still holds the High Office of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“The Presidency would not ordinarily have wished to join issues with Mallam Sanusi who as CBN Governor remains an appointee of the President, but the very unacceptable manner in which Sanusi has been misinforming the public made it imperative that this statement be issued”.
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