Why Lamido Sanusi should end up in Kirikiri, By Femi Aribisala

Femi Aribisala, Ph.D
Femi Aribisala

Lamido Sanusi should not only be sacked, he should be tried and, if convicted, should be jailed.

One of the more annoying things about Nigeria is that our thieves are bad thieves. Conventionally, thieves operate at the night, out of respect for the homeowner and law-enforcement agencies. Not in Nigeria: thieves operate here in broad daylight in absolute contempt of everybody. In Nigeria, thieves know they will not be caught. They know if they are caught, they will not be tried. They know if they are tried, they will not go to jail. Therefore, there is a culture of impunity in Nigeria which makes the country a holiday-resort for thieves and robbers.

Jail or dismissal?

Nothing speaks more eloquently about this culture of impunity than the CBN under Lamido Sanusi. Sanusi’s posture as CBN Governor is an insult to Nigerians. He ran the place as a personal estate. He flouted every financial regulation. He gave away government money in a flagrant manner that would give pause to even billionaire Mike Adenuga. And then when he knew the game was up, he decided to blow the lid on NNPC financial indiscretions, in order to distract attention and attract public support and sympathy. Nigerians should not fall for this “mago-mago.” Lamido Sanusi should not only be sacked, he should be tried and, if convicted, should be jailed.

The government has called Sanusi’s bluff. In a sleight of hand, he has been summarily dismissed from office under the guise of suspension. This has created some brouhaha because the President needs Senate approval for the dismissal of a CBN Governor. But the president has found a way round that impediment. Sanusi has been suspended; he has not been fired. Surely, the president has the power to suspend a public employee for questionable conduct, pending the confirmation of his wrongdoing. If the allegations against him are found to be without substance, he can then return to his post.

However, since Sanusi’s term will soon expire, the president has gone right along to nominate his replacement. It is all politics, and not just Nigerian-style. Separation of powers is a judicious principle of federalist government, but there is something anomalous about a CBN governor transforming himself overnight into an opposition politician spokesman. There is also something unacceptable about the arrogance of Sanusi which makes him feel he is an untouchable. Under the circumstances, his suspension/dismissal from office is not surprising. Indeed, it is all the more imperative given the financial improprieties that have characterized his tenure in office.

Distorted timeline

The major sticking point with Sanusi’s “dismissal” is the widespread assumption that it is payback for him blowing the whistle about the whopping $20 billion missing from NNPC accounts. However, there is every probability that the opposite is what happened. The government was the first to query Sanusi about his financial improprieties. When he could not explain them, Sanusi went on the offensive by making public statements about missing monies at NNPC. This would explain why his allegations tuned out to be shambolic.

The last thing a country needs is a CBN governor who talks frivolously. The word of a CBN governor has implications for financial market volatility; therefore he must mark his words. He must speak with confidence and precision. Not so with Lamido Sanusi. Sanusi went public and made a monkey of his credibility. First, he said $49 billion was missing from NNPC accounts. Then he said it was $10 billion; and then it was $20 billion. What will it be tomorrow? How come Sanusi did not determine precisely the amount before broadcasting it to the world? It would appear that Sanusi’s reckless disclosures came out of the need for him to cover his tracks at the CBN. Knowing that the book would soon be thrown at him, he decided to lay the grounds for saying he was being accused of financial improprieties because he exposed those of others.

This is not to deny that there are, in all probability, huge financial improprieties hidden in NNPC accounts. However, the very fact that a CBN governor decided to go public with them is highly suspect. A CBN governor does not make such public disclosures as CBN governor. He resigns first. It is even more suspect given the fact that the very person who would have us believe he is taking the moral high ground with these disclosures is the same person we have now learnt has run the accounts of the CBN like a bull in a china shop. Sanusi is anything but a foolish man. He surely knows that those who live in glass houses don’t throw stones.

Sanusi knew something was up. Therefore, he decided to go on the offensive. What he has done is to curry favour the Nigerian public by raising alarm about missing monies, even when he did not have the full facts, in order to preempt the disclosures about his own financial improprieties.

This strategy has succeeded in part. Sanusi has immediately become the darling of the opposition APC party. Muhammadu Buhari, the self-styled apostle of anti-corruption, has come out in his staunch defense, giving us a taste of the kind of anti-corruption his APC has in mind. There is a déjà vu to this. It is the kind of hypocritical anti-corruption where the airports and seaports of Nigeria can be closed to everyone, but the Emir of Gwandu can bring in 53 suitcases under the escort of the aide-de-camp of the Head of State.

Financial atrocities

The financial atrocities in the CBN under Sanusi are simply outrageous. If this is how government agencies steal and mismanage public funds, then Nigeria is in more trouble than we have ever imagined. CBN accounts under Sanusi read like pure fiction. While crying foul about missing money in NNPC, Sanusi failed to account for missing monies in CBN. Investigating the CBN in April 2013, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) discovered that ₦38.23 billion was missing. The money was said to have been paid to MINT- a subsidiary of the CBN. However, MINT accounts showed no such money was received.

It is only in Nigeria that you can have a Central Bank governor spend government money anyhow at his own discretion. Sanusi did not just spend a few thousand naira whimsically. He did not just give away millions of naira like Aliko Dagote. He gave away billions. The government reveals that Sanusi gave away nothing less than ₦163 billion in no less than 63 “intervention projects” in different parts of the country. Remember this: that is more than the entire 2014 budget of Edo State.

Just listen to this: the CBN is said to have paid ₦38 billion to the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC) in 2011 for printing banknotes. However this is in excess of the total turnover of NSPMC that same year, which was only ₦29 billion. The CBN claims to have paid Emirate Airline ₦511 million for currency distribution nationwide in 2011 when the airline does not have a local charter service in Nigeria. It reports ₦425 million as paid to Wing Airline, but the airline is not even registered in Nigeria. It also claims to have paid Associated Airline ₦1 billion for the same purpose, but the airline did not have up to a billion-naira turnover in 2011.

In its 2011 account under “sundries” (i.e. unexplained expenses), Sanusi’s CBN reported an expenditure of ₦1.1 billion. For legal and professional fees that same year, it claimed to have spent an amazing ₦20 billion. This is simply mind-boggling. So mind-boggling in fact that naïve people like me don’t believe a word of it. These are just crooked details designed to mask the massive corruption and graft under Sanusi’s watch.

In 2012, ₦1.2 billion was listed as expenses on “private guards” and “lunch for policemen.” Wow! These policemen must have been having caviar for lunch. Similarly, ₦1.6 billion was spent on newspapers, books and periodicals alone that same year. Pull another leg. Who believes this kind of rigmarole?

Still in 2012, ₦3 billion was spent on “promotional activities.” Pray, to whom was the CBN doing this promoting? Where did these promotional activities take place and to what purpose? Was it in Nigeria or in outer space? Which bank was CBN in competition with? Was it the World Bank or the African Development Bank? Was the CBN trying to attract depositors or customers? Or was it paying legislators so that its powers would not be curtailed?

Nobody should condone Sanusi’s financial recklessness. He also played Father Christmas with Nigeria’s money. According to the government, Sanusi’s CBN wrote-off loans to the tune of ₦40 billion. Without board or presidential approval, Sanusi spent ₦743 million of CBN money acquiring 7% shares of the International Islamic Management Corporation of Malaysia, contrary to the provisions of the CBN Act.

Off to Kirikiri

It is a big indictment of the Jonathan administration that this impunity was tolerated for this long and was only addressed after Sanusi became a political embarrassment to the government. The billion-naira question now is what is going to happen to Sanusi. Will he get away with these corrupt practices or will he be prosecuted to the full extent of the law? My position is that we need to chart a new course in the treatment of corruption in Nigeria. If Sanusi is truly guilty of these improprieties, he should be sent to jail; for a very long time.

However, the bet is on that nothing will happen to him beyond his dismissal from office. It appears nothing is also going to happen to Deziani Allison-Madueke, the Minister of Petroleum. The missing $20 billion at NNPC will also be swept under the carpet. All the signs of a cover-up are already apparent. The FRC indicted all the Deputy Governors of the CBN along with the Governor and asked that they all be sacked. However, not only were they not sacked, one of them has been made the new Acting Governor. In all likelihood, this culture of impunity will remain for the simple reason that it seems to go all the way to the very highest echelons of the Nigerian government.


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  • Abdulkadir Iliya

    Were you paid to put this up? Or you just don’t like SLS for exposing the real thieves. Your article is a total rubbish.

    • taewo

      @Abdulkadir Iliy, It is true that Sanusi exposed the rot in accounting for crude oil earnings but he himself is corrupt, wasteful and extremely lousy.

      Take the example of how he was distributing cash for what he stupidly called corporate social responsibility projects. The notion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) presupposes that an organisation is a profit making entity and that it is morally bound to channel part of its profits to the community where it operates. It doesn’t apply to non-profit making government departments and agencies, whose primary duty is to implement programs and projects for the benefit of the people. Now, is CBN a profit making entity? If Sanusi claimed that he was doing CSR by funding university projects and donating to the victims of flood disasters, what then is role of the Ministry of Education, NEMA etc? And how can we be sure that he was deriving private benefits from these supposedly CSR activities?

      I’m not a banker but I think he was too reckless in his use of the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) as a monetary policy instrument. He virtually was bailing out the banks and killing them. He wanted banks to keep 100% of government deposit, 15% (?) of private sector deposits and things like that. So, is commercial bank all about collecting and keeping cash in the banks’ vault? Go and check the effect of that on the banking stocks in the stock market and the implications of the crash in banks’ share prices on Nigerians who have their money investment through pension funds.

      He appears to be intelligent and I think he managed to do a few good things but he certainly wasn’t the right person for such a sensitive post as CBN Governor. You’ll hardly find the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve or Governor of the Bank of England being on the front pages of newspaper for news not related to monetary policy. This is because, every statement made by a Central Bank Governor carries weight in the financial market but Sanusi was just out of control.

      Honestly, I felt that Sanusi should have left that post long ago.

      Having said that, I’m not happy with the way he was removed because it sent a negative signal that the CBN was not truly independent. I think that outsiders, who want to do business with or in Nigeria would be worried that our institutions are immature and that they can easily be overrun by politicians. So, this would be priced into the cost of transactions. This government, in particular, is notorious for operating with impunity and in a military fashion. Since Sanusi already declared that he would be leaving in March 2014, why was the government in a hurry to remove him if the implications on the financial markets was properly considered?

      • Tonnero

        You people all miss the point. It does not matter whether Sanusi is guilty or not. Or whether we like his policies or not. Or whether we like him as a person or not. Or whether he was too political or not? The issue is: DOES GEJ HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMOVE (OR SUSPEND) HIM WITHOUT RECOURSE TO THE SENATE THEREBY VIOLATING THE LETTER AND SPIRIT OF THE CBN ACT OF 2007? Put differently, whether GEJ is corrupt or not, or whether we like his person or policies or not, no one has the right to remove him without either going through an election or impeaching him as prescribed by the constitution! No wonder we all fail logic classes. SLS’s guilt or non-guilt is a classic case of a red herring.

      • Usman Lawal Kurfi

        Hava! give some credit to our Governor pls,the truth is that any body try mess with the president about oil sector will definately pay for it. think about it

    • patriot

      The problem with imbecilic bigots like you is that you are blinded by tribalism and religion such that your selective myopia will always constrain you from seeing the facts in any publication that exposes the corrupt practices of anyone who is either a moslem or a northerner. Please make a constructive criticism based on facts rather than disdainful ignorance.

  • AT&T

    “If Sanusi is truly guilty of improprieties he should be sent to jail” if however is NOT guilty as you and the notorious bankers who bleeds and failed many banks claims, you should be BOLD enough to quite writing on this page and bury yourself in SHAME.

  • Gezawa

    Mr. femi after your sunday article on this “blog” and vanguard and your subsequent outburst in your reply to one victor for telling you the truth, i totally dont take you seriously but fervently pray for you. it was pointed out that “the devil has wrecked eternal havoc on your soul” so you are out here misleading the public. but what people dont know is that you also sell your space on “blogs” to the highest bidder even if its the illuminatti, but in this case Mr Reno omokiri aka Armrod. its a shame.

    • Tonnero

      I now see where Victor is coming from. Femi is a joke.

    • David U David

      Quite a pity, you’ve not yet grown out of the ambit of peasant and slave ideology of earthnic/tribal/regional scope of thinking, education, philosophy and beliefs system.

  • Tonnero

    Femi who calls himself a pastor (which I now begin to doubt since peddling falsehood and pastoring should have no meeting point) and who consistently supports the government of GEJ in all things no matter how absurd, and those who support Femi all miss the point.
    It does not matter whether Sanusi is guilty or not. Or whether we like his policies or not. Or whether we like him as a person or not. Or whether he was too political or not. The issue is: DOES GEJ HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMOVE (OR SUSPEND) HIM WITHOUT RECOURSE TO THE SENATE THEREBY VIOLATING THE LETTER AND SPIRIT OF THE CBN ACT OF 2007?
    Put differently, whether GEJ is corrupt or not, or whether we like his person or policies or not, no one has the right to remove him without either going through an election or impeaching him as prescribed by the constitution!
    No wonder we all fail logic classes. SLS’s guilt or non-guilt is a classic case of a red herring.

  • frank

    Femi, you have just exposed our government as corrupt, incompetent, and above all acts with impunity. Any responsible President or leader would not sit idle and let such magnitude of alleged finacial recklessness to take place under his watch. If the President had integrity, sincere and was geniune, he would acted swiftly to address the allegations against the CBN chief. He only acted when Mr Sanusi told Nigerians, what we all already knew was happening any way. It was just that some one of the status of the CBN chief had said it. Then it was time to discredit him. That was the President’response. I was reading Stephen Covey today and he said ‘ l would doubt it that anyone would seriously consider unfairness, deceit, baseness, uselessness, mediocrity or degeneration to be a solid foundation for lasting happiness and success’. My thought was that this Mr Covey, possibly has not heard of the country called NIGERIA.

  • absam777

    I thought this guy is non-partisan and educated. This article stinks of ignorance and hackers job. You have certainly been settled by the Presidency or the ministry of information . You will be exposed.

  • Usman Lawal Kurfi

    if sanusi is to end up in kirikiri..i wonder which type of prison GEJ will go to!! Tribalism that’s what you do always..time will tell

  • Garden-City Boy

    Femi, how dare you say that? Don’t you know that awusas peopel are Nigeria’s sacred cows, who can act as they like with all manners of impunity, including barbaric mass murder of innocent people, and ‘NOTHING WILL HAPPEN”? Don’t you realize that, in addition to his awusa sacredness, this one -Sanusi- is a prince? Or did the egugun masquerade he wore to the CBN premises to prove his princely anointing escape your notice? Blimey, no talk-O. Imprisonment is only for Southerners, just as election annulments, mass murder, pogroms and genocide. With just only his scare-crow masquerade outfit, he was able to send crowds of freaked out bank customers into frenzied stampede, let alone when ragged-headed in wards of textile.
    The rule of law is under test in case of bandit’s offspring that squirreled billions of public money into the pockets of his kinsmen who hale him as a Robin Hood. Clearly, awusas are out to be the destructive parasites of their gracious host.The regard that Nigeria is a country they belong does not ever resonate with the awusa psyche. If ever it does, it infinitesimally tangential. The awusa man regards their AREWA as home, the rest of the place a territorial conquest… to be plundered, pillaged and devastated.
    The clan’s unimaginable rapaciousness is such that their is no letting up on the freewheeling banditry until the conquered territory is milked dry. After all, what was it Pro. Tam David West do that earned him imprisonment in Barma prisons under Babangida? They say was over a wristwatch and a cup of coffee. A Southern – a world-renowned Professor of virology? thrown to jail and humiliated by an awusa ass-crack for allegedly accepting wristwatch and a cup of coffee as bribe? Man, these mullahs pushed their luck way, way too far.
    Should this kleptomanic -Lamido Sanusi- not end up in jail to rot, then awusas are indeed our own dear sacred animals they claim to be. The full weight of the law must be brought to bear, especially if his activities may have been provided funding for the activities of awusa terrorists they call Boko Haram. In which case, we should never again complain about the shit the people throw at us, but bear it in good faith, so they don’t loose their temper with us, so the plunder will continue,and we can stay alive and be granted peace by our benevolent awusa conquistadors.Dan bura uba!!!

  • deji

    This Aribisasewon is deranged. Satanic Pastor and a thief. You will end up in Kirikiri and end your miserable life in jail with your masters – Jonathan and his team of looters.

  • David U David

    The article is precise and rich enough for anyone to read and understand. Oga Femi, you have done an excellent work here. Thanks.
    Mallam Sanusi, adopted a strange or a brand new style of stealing public funds.
    Throughout his tenure, he hasn’t actually represented the statutory functions of the apex bank’s governor but numerous parochial interests yet unveiled. Many Nigerians were almost deceived by his usual antics. This is an eye opener: a new thieving style in the offing; the thief blows whistle and ring bell to label and announce his perceived enemies including his employer as thefts in order to win sympathy and support of the unsuspecting masses.
    With this revelation, no other corrupt public officer will ever adopt this style again.
    Invariably, the Nigerian system today,more than ever before is set to unraval any corrupt public officer in whatever shades and colours.

  • Lady of London

    You write beautifully, interestingly and professionally. I enjoyed this piece.

  • Daniel

    Femi is very right on Sanusi who almost transformed the CBN into an emirate of a sort. He should get ready for jail. Because he is an ex-King’s College boy, Bukola Saraki and the likes known for unbridled corruption became his friend.

    It is unfortunate that most young people do not know how a an apex bank governor should conduct himself in office. They fail to see the unethical role Sanusi played as being pro-APC.
    How could he fund the opposition party while he is on the payroll of government.

    He should have resigned, if he felt the government was corrupt. Hypocrisy stinks!