- Soludo kicks
- Sanusi: I am ready for probe
A senior Nigerian lawyer, Femi Falana, has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes, EFCC, to promptly investigate a range of dealings involving alleged diversion of public funds over the years by government establishments, including the central bank, under former governors, Chukwuma Soludo and Lamido Sanusi.
Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, had not taken steps to recover billions of dollars “either criminally diverted or illegally withheld” from government account.
He said the EFCC needed to act now given “the increasing pressures being mounted on the Federal Government by the parasitic faction of the ruling class to auction the remaining assets of the nation”.
The comment followed calls by businessman, Aliko Dangote, and the senate president, Bukola Saraki, for the government to sell national asset to stem recession.
Mr. Falana listed the following cases for investigation:
1. By a letter dated January 27, 2016 the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) disclosed to us that from five cycles of independent audit reports covering 1999-2012 it had confirmed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, some oil companies and certain agencies of the Federal Government had withheld $20.2 billion from the Federation Account. Despite repeated requests of some civil society organizations the Federal Government has refused to recover the said sum of $20.2 billion.
2. Sometime in 2006, former Central Bank Governor, Profesor Chukwuma Soludo removed $7 billion from the nation’s external reserves and doled it out to 14 Nigerian banks. Two years later, the Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (the current Emir of Kano) also gave a bailout of N600 billion to the same banks. The request of some civil society organisations for the recovery of the huge loan of $7 billion and N600 billion from the commercial banks has been ignored by the management of the Central Bank.
3. On September 6, 2016, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced that arrangements had been concluded to recover the sum of $9.6 billion in over-deducted tax benefits from joint venture partners on major capital projects and oil swap contracts. Although the NNPC has recovered the said sum of $9.6 billion, it has failed to remit same to the Federation Account without any legal justification.
4. In 2009, Mobil Oil Producing Nigeria Unlimited applied to the Federal Government for the renewal of three oil blocks. Upon granting the application, the NNPC asked Mobil to pay the sum of $2.5 billion for the renewal of the licenses. While Mobil made a part payment of $600 million it undertook to invest the outstanding sum of $1.9 billion in the energy sector. But as Mobil did not invest the said sum in the energy sector the Civil Society Network Against Corruption has requested the EFCC to investigate the fraudulent transaction.
5. From 1998-2014, the Federal Government successfully recovered over $4 billion from the Abacha loot. However, based on the refusal of the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to account for the recovered loot the Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) applied to the Federal High Court for an order of mandamus. Even though the Court granted the order the Federal Government has failed to account for the recovered loot. In the circumstances, we have submitted a petition to the EFCC to investigate the alleged criminal diversion of the recovered loot.
6. In the Appropriation Act, 2011, the sum of N245 billion was earmarked for fuel subsidy. In violation of the Act, the Central Bank of Nigeria headed by Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi paid the sum of N2.5 trillion to a cabal of fuel importers. Following our petition the EFCC conducted an investigation into the fraud but the exercise was compromised due to pressure from the former Jonathan administration. Even though the EFCC has charged some of the suspects to court the investigation ought to be reopened with a view to getting to the root of the monumental fraud.
Mr. Falana offered to “provide all relevant documents to facilitate your investigation of the serious economic and financial crimes disclosed in this petition”.
“In view of the foregoing we are compelled to request you to use your good offices to recover the aforesaid sums of money and proceed to prosecute the corporate bodies and individuals involved in the economic sabotage which has contributed to the nation’s economic recession,” he said.
Messrs. Soludo and Sanusi could not be immediately reached for comments.
I’m ready to face probe – Emir Sanusi
A former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, has declared his readiness to face investigations into his tenure at the top bank.
Mr. Sanusi’s comments came as a response to a call by Femi Falana, a senior lawyer, urging the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate alleged “diversion” of government funds by the CBN, under Mr. Sanusi.
Mr. Falana also called for the probe of Mr. Sanusi’s predecessor, Charles Soludo.
“Sometime in 2006, former Central Bank Governor, Profesor Chukwuma Soludo removed $7 billion from the nation’s external reserves and doled it out to 14 Nigerian banks. Two years later, the Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (the current Emir of Kano) also gave a bailout of N600 billion to the same banks. The request of some civil society organisations for the recovery of the huge loan of $7 billion and N600 billion from the commercial banks has been ignored by the management of the Central Bank,” Mr. Falana said in a statement on Saturday.
“In the Appropriation Act, 2011, the sum of N245 billion was earmarked for fuel subsidy. In violation of the Act, the Central Bank of Nigeria headed by Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi paid the sum of N2.5 trillion to a cabal of fuel importers. Following our petition the EFCC conducted an investigation into the fraud but the exercise was compromised due to pressure from the former Jonathan administration. Even though the EFCC has charged some of the suspects to court the investigation ought to be reopened with a view to getting to the root of the monumental fraud.”
Mr. Sanusi said he was always available at any time to answer questions regarding his stewardship at the central bank.
On fuel subsidy, he said “The Central Bank does not pay and has never paid subsidy to marketers and the only circumstance this would happen is the Central Bank acting as banker to Government and carrying out instructions to make payments from Government accounts”.
“There is absolutely no circumstance under which the CBN would have disbursed its own money for payment of subsidy or disbursed money on behalf of Government without authorization,” Mr. Sanusi said late Saturday.
He said the CBN was at the “forefront of the effort to expose the corruption in the subsidy regime and put a stop to it”.
He called allegation on bank bailouts “strange”.
“The money was not given to bank shareholders and management but was provided to ensure that ordinary Nigerians and other depositors who kept their money in banks did not lose their savings as a result of the mismanagement of these banks and bad loans,” he said.
“The money remains a loan to those banks and is to be repaid from a combination of sources over the years. These include sale of collateral backing non-performing loans held by AMCON, recovery of those loans, sale of share of the banks held by AMCON and a sinking fund into which all banks are to make annual contributions.
“This will continue no matter how long it takes until the banking industry repays all amounts due to AMCON and the bondholders are repaid.
“All of this is in line with the law setting up AMCON and the purpose of setting it up in the first place.
“The resolution of the Nigerian banking crisis and the AMCON model are actually being held up as an example of how to deal with severe and systemic banking crisis. Not a single depositor in any Nigerian bank lost a single kobo due precisely to these arrangements.”
Soludo hits back, says Falana’s allegation he diverted $7 billion ‘blatant lies’
A former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Chukwuma Soludo, hit back Saturday after a senior Nigerian lawyer, Femi Falana, accused him of unlawfully “doling” $7 billion of Nigeria’s reserves to banks as loan.
Mr. Falana said the amount was never recovered.
The former CBN chief dismissed the allegation as “ignorant” and “blatant lies”, and demanded evidence or an apology.
“I largely ignore such ignorant commentaries,” he said in a statement. “However, Femi Falana is one of the Nigerians I deeply respect, and I am sure many Nigerians also hold him in very high esteem. I was therefore shocked beyond belief that someone like him could fabricate and peddle blatant lies.”
Mr. Falana had urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate alleged “criminal diversion or withholding” of government funds by the CBN, under Mr. Soludo and his successor, Lamido Sanusi.
The lawyer said Mr. Sanusi, who is the Emir of Kano now, gave another unrecovered N600 billion as bailout to the same banks.
He also accused Mr. Sanusi of illegally paying N2.5 trillion instead of N245 billion to fuel marketers as subsidy. Mr. Sanusi denied the allegation and said he was ready to face investigations.
Mr. Soludo, who left the CBN in 2009, said throughout my tenure, Nigeria never lost one penny of the reserves.
“From the above quotation, Falana alleged that I “removed” $7 billion from Nigeria’s external reserves and gave same as a “loan” to 14 Nigerian banks in 2006, and apparently such a “loan” has not been recovered. This is a blatant lie and I challenge Falana to publish the details of such a “loan” which remains unpaid or as a person with honour, publish a retraction and unreserved apology immediately,” Mr. Soludo said.
Mr. Soludo said one of the legacies of his tenure as CBN Governor was the highest rate of reserve accumulation in Nigeria’s history as well as its effective and efficient management.
“On assumption of office, I met exactly $10 billion in foreign reserves. With average monthly oil price of $59 during my tenure, we accumulated reserves to all time high of over $62 billion. Even after paying off Nigeria’s external debt with $12 billion and facing unprecedented global financial and economic crisis, I still left $45 billion upon leaving office in 2009,” he said.
“Throughout my tenure, Nigeria never lost one penny of the reserves. It is particularly important to note that even during the global financial crisis of 2008/2009 when major international banks collapsed and some countries lost some of their reserves, our prudent management ensured that Nigeria never lost a penny but earned returns on the reserves. Given the powerful interests that I fought during the consolidation of banks and even since I left office, one can only imagine the international headlines that would have been made if just one penny of the reserves was unaccounted for.
“That under the provisions of the CBN Act as well as the guidelines for the management of foreign reserves, it is impossible for anyone to ‘remove’ any sum of money from the reserves and give out as “loan” to commercial banks in Nigeria. To qualify as ‘foreign reserves’ such reserves are held in foreign currency abroad as deposits with banks or in sovereign instruments such as the US treasury bills,” he said.
Mr. Soludo said he would be at any time to respond to any questions regarding his stewardship at the CBN.
“I have come to terms with the fact that part of the burden one bears for having held public office in Nigeria is that one has to endure all kinds of uninformed and sometimes mischievous attempts to malign one’s character,” he said.