STRONG indications emerged yesterday that President Goodluck Jonathan may soon commence a probe into the tenure of immediate past governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Lamido Sanusi Lamido.
This comes as ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, yesterday, called for a detailed forensic audit of all the accounts and financial activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2009 till date, stressing that in carrying out the probe, the audit must establish and publish all movement of monies from the CBN accounts, such as contract sums, donations and other extra budgetary spending under the suspended CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
The party, reiterated by alleging that a fraudulent N48 billion contract was awarded to a leader of the APC, while N5 billion was further paid to another stalwart of the party as consultancy fee.
But the suspended Central Bank governor weekend reacted to the 35 allegations levelled against him by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, FRCN, saying he saw the FRCN Briefing Note for the first time when it was attached to his suspension letter.
It will be recalled that following the suspension of Sanusi as CBN governor last month, the Presidency explained that his suspension was not related to witch hunt, but alleged cases of impunity, incompetence, non-challance , fraud, wastefulness, and gross abuse of and non-compliance with provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, had in a statement explained that Sanusi’s sack by President Goodluck Jonathan was also not a deviation from the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.
He added that the issues that culminated in the suspension of the CBN governor dated back to April 2013, following the submission of the CBN audited accounts for the year that ended on December 31, 2012, and which was submitted to the President by the apex bank.
PDP calls for forensic audit
The PDP, while calling for Sanusi’s probe, said: “Facts available to it, some of which have already been published by the Financial Reporting Council, show that within the period, the apex bank engaged in reckless award of inflated contracts through which over N680 billion CBN money was frittered away.”
“The audit must expose the true beneficiaries of over N150 billion doled out as developmental donations especially as some of the institutions listed as beneficiaries such as the Bayero University Kano, BUK, have denied receiving the sums recorded against their names by the CBN. It noted that BUK was widely reported to have announced that it received only N1billion as against the N4 billion claimed by the apex bank.
Meanwhile, Sanusi further stated that each of the allegations was false, unfounded, malicious and fabricated to mislead the President, adding that if the CBN had received the FRCN Briefing Note prepared in June 2013, all misconceptions, misrepresentations, erroneous inferences would have been cleared.
Sanusi, also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to revisit and redress his suspension, urging the President to apply same rationale and rigour to other agencies of government with serious allegations and queries against them.
The suspended CBN governor called on the President to ask other agencies that had been queried of financial impropriety to provide responses and explanation with the same level of clarity and transparency as he had done.
In his defense, according to the report made available to Vanguard, Sanisi said: “ Indeed, it will be impossible for me to review almost five years of revolutionary change made possible by the work of thousands of employees in the CBN, in collaboration with other regulators, banks and other financial institutions and government ministries in this press statement. However, I will mention a few of the key highlights.
“The highlight include : improvement of the institutional framework for policy-making, local currency and maintenance of stability; Establishment of Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria , AMCON; monetary policy amongst others.”
On Briefing Note Allegation that there is weak corporate governance at the CBN on account of the fact that the office of the governor is fused with that of the Chairman of CBN’s Board of Directors, Sanusi said the allegation ignored the fact that global best practice was that the governor of the central bank is the chairman of the Board of Directors of the central bank.
On alleged fraudulent activities; that the CBN’s breakdown of “Currency Issue Expenses” for 2011 and 2012 indicated that it paid the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc, NSPMP, N38.233 billion in 2011 for printing of banknotes, whereas the entire turnover of NSPMP was N29.370 million, Sanusi said the expense item of N38.233 billion to NSPMP was made up of N28.738 billion payment to NSPMP in 2011; N6.587 billion accrued liability in 2011 but paid in 2012 when deliveries were received; and N2.829Billion audit adjustment journal entry into the account at the end of 2011 in respect of prepayments to NSPMP.
He said the difference between the numbers in the financial statements of CBN and NSPMP was a simple reflection of timing differences between recognition of expenses by the CBN and income recognition by the NSPMP, with both entities applying conservative accounting policies.
He said with respect to Associated Air Limited, the CBN did in fact pay a total of N1.025 billion to Associated Airlines Limited but noted that the CBN was not responsible for how the company reported its turnover.
On Akingbola’s petition and the N40bn loan waiver;
Sanusi said Akingbola was a man found by a final judgment of the Courts in England to have been liable for financial improprieties in the management of the affairs of ICB.
He said: “In his self-serving petition, Mr. Akingbola alleged that the CBN, on my watch, wrote-off a loan in favour of Dr. Bukola Saraki. This is untrue. The CBN was at no time involved in the decision of ICB (or any other bank for that matter) to write-off its loans.
“The CBN never gave prior approval to the Management and Board of ICB to write-off any particular loan. It is important to state up-front that all the non-executive directors on the Board of ICB were appointed by its shareholders, while Akingbola was CEO and they were the majority on the Board that approved the write-offs.”
In his conclusion to the response, Sanusi stated: “ It is now clear that each of the allegations made by the FRCN in the briefing note could easily have been resolved upon a simple request to the CBN for clarification or a little more careful review.
“There is no doubt that if the CBN had received the briefing note, which was prepared in June 2013, all the misconceptions, misrepresentations and erroneous inferences contained therein would have been cleared, and the misleading of His Excellency would have been avoided.
“It is now my sincere hope that, having painstakingly provided detailed explanations, backed by verifiable documents, His Excellency, Mr President will find the response satisfactory, and in line with his adherence to fairness and justice, revisit and redress the issue of my suspension.
“Furthermore, it is my wish that His Excellency, Mr President, will apply the same rationale and rigour to other agencies of the Federal Government that have had serious allegations and queries levied against them, and presume upon them to provide responses and explanations with the same level of clarity and transparency.
“In closing, I would like to place on record the dogged professionalism and patriotism of the staff of the CBN. They have, over the years, served this country creditably, loyally and diligently.”
BY HENRY UMORU & PETER EGWUATU