Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Respond To Charges Against You And Stop Misinforming The Public – Presidency Tells Sanusi

The presidency has criticized what it called the unrelenting attempt by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to falsely portray his recent suspension from office as the government’s attempt to bury his allegation that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has not accounted for huge sums of money due to the Federation Account.

In a statement signed by spokesman Reuben Abati, the Presidency declared that Sanusi’s suspension has “absolutely nothing” to do with his claims of funds missing from the national treasury.

“Mallam Sanusi’s allegations are patently untrue,” the statement said.  “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.”

In last Monday’s interview with the New York Times which seems to have rattled the Jonathan government, Sanusi spoke of his efforts to unravel the whereabouts of the missing $20bn oil money, including a February 11 semi-monthly meeting with bank chiefs on at which he “threatened to open the books of the bankers, to trace the money.”

According to the suspended CBN boss, who said he suspected some of them were laundering stolen oil money, “Some of them were not giving information about their accounts.  I told them I would order a special examination.”

One of the bankers at the meeting told the New York Times that Sanusi made it plain to them that the CBN would need to unravel what was going on, and called for their cooperation.

In panic, Sanusi told the newspaper, several of the bankers went straight to the government, which labours under a sordid reputation for corruption.

Full text of the statement;


STATE HOUSE PRESS STATEMENT;
RESPOND TO CHARGES AGAINST YOU AND STOP MISINFORMING THE PUBLIC – PRESIDENCY TELLS SANUSI

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.

Reuben Abati
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
March 12, 2014