The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) practically emptied its vaults apparently to finance the presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), sources conversant with investigations into security spending in the last administration have informed TheCable.
TheCable had earlier reported the extra-budgetary disbursement of N40 billion to the office of the national security adviser and N20 billion to the Department of State Services (DSS) by the CBN, but fresh revelations indicate that the monies were released in dollar cash — contrary to all money laundering regulations.
They were taken directly from the dollar reserve vaults of the central bank, TheCable understands.
Security sources disclosed that in August 2014, Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, called a board meeting and asked for an approval of N60 billion to support the security services under a “special security intervention fund” he intended to create.
Emefiele, who is also chairman of the board, told the members that the money was needed to equip the military to fight the insurgency in the north-east, following a series of onslaughts by Boko Haram.
Some board members reportedly cautioned him against such an audacious move, advising instead that the expenditure should be tied to procurement, but he was said to have rejected the advice.
This was shortly after he had secured approval from President Goodluck Jonathan to disburse the funds.
Sambo Dasuki, retired colonel and then NSA, had twice requested for N60 billion in documents seen by TheCable — and was only successful at third attempt following Jonathan’s intervention.
In the new documents seen by TheCable, the former NSA regularly wrote to Emefiele asking him to disburse the approved money in hard currency equivalent, usually in tranches of N10 billion.
Dokpesi: I got N2.1 billion for Jonathan’s media publicity
Investigators have now traced some of the monies collected by the office of the NSA to the PDP presidential campaign, with Raymond Dokpesi, chairman of AIT, revealing that he collected N2.1 billion from the office to undertake media publicity for Jonathan.
Dasuki has said not all the monies he received were for security, maintaining that some were for NGOs.
However, questions have been raised on how CBN created the security fund overnight to meet NSA’s requests.
“What the CBN did was to create an intervention fund, which it is empowered to do by the CBN Act. That is why we have aviation intervention fund, agriculture intervention fund, all sorts, which are now being abused to take money out of the system,” one of the sources said.
A former minister told TheCable that it is illegal for the CBN to pay raw dollars to any government agency.
He said: “If the money was given to the NSA in naira, this would be a case of the CBN printing money for the government and adding to pressure on prices and exchange rates. I was told a lot of this happened in many instances and did a lot of damage to the economy.
“If, on the other hand, as it is being alleged in this case, the NSA was given this money in cash forex, then a strong case can be made for criminal activity by the CBN itself. In giving so much cash, the CBN is itself involved in money laundering. And by taking it from the central bank vaults, the management of the central bank has effectively taken foreign exchange from CBN reserves and given same to the NSA with no questions asked.”
The way it was done, according to CBN insiders, “was that the money was taken directly from CBN vaults without any account being credited. It effectively did not go through the due process. The accountant-general did not sign off as it is the practice.
“Money was just moved directly like it happened under Gen. Sani Abacha when large amounts were taken out of the CBN under the guise of financing ECOMOG, the West African peace-keeping force. We know where the bulk ended up.”
The February 14 presidential election was controversially postponed
Sources further told TheCable that it was common for the CBN to dole out hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to various agencies in government in the run-up to the general election.
For instance, in February 2015 — after the presidential elections were controversially postponed ostensibly to fight Boko Haram — the CBN took almost $300 million on the instructions of the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) and passed it to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
NAPIMS is a corporate services unit in the exploration and production directorate of the NNPC charged with managing government’s investment in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry.
NIA is Nigeria’s equivalent of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which deals with foreign intelligence.
Investigators are working with the theory that the money was used to finance PDP’s “final push” in the presidential election which it eventually lost to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“After meeting NAPIMS’ request, the CBN did not have any more dollars in its vaults. Even for estacode, CBN staff had to wait for dollars from the branches,” a CBN source said.
The economy has been on a spiral in the last one year as the fall in oil prices has further worsened the problems caused by the excessive drawing down on dollars in the last one year of Jonathan’s administration.
The naira has since been devalued and the forex market is virtually paralyzed, with the CBN effectively outlawing the operation of domiciliary accounts and banning forex supply for the import of dozens of items.
Ibrahim Muazu, the CBN director of corporate communications, did not respond to messages.
A CBN official told TheCable: “The central bank does not engage in public controversy.”
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