President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday suspended Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The suspension order was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati.
Abati said Jonathan had found out that Sanusi’s tenure as the CBN governor has been characterised by acts of financial recklessness and misconduct which are inconsistent with his administration’s vision.
He named a Deputy Governor of the CBN, Dr. Sarah Omotunde Alade, as the acting governor.
He said Alade would remain in charge until the conclusion of ongoing investigations into breaches of enabling laws, due process and mandate of the CBN.
The statement read, “Having taken special notice of reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies, which indicate clearly that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure has been characterized by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct which are inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a central bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline.
“Being also deeply concerned about far-reaching irregularities under Mallam Sanusi’s watch which have distracted the Central Bank away from the pursuit and achievement of its statutory mandate; and being determined to urgently re-position the Central Bank of Nigeria for greater efficiency, respect for due process and accountability, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has ordered the immediate suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi from the Office of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“President Jonathan has further ordered that Mallam Sanusi should hand over to the most senior Deputy Governor of the CBN, Dr Sarah Omotunde Alade, who will serve as acting governor until the conclusion of on-going investigations into breaches of enabling laws, due process and mandate of the CBN.
“The president expects that as Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Alade will focus on the core mandate of the bank and conduct its affairs with greater professionalism, prudence and propriety to restore domestic and international confidence in the country’s apex bank.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria reassures all stakeholders in Nigeria’s financial and monetary system that this decision has been taken in absolute good faith, in the overall interest of the Nigerian economy and in accordance with our laws and due process,” Abati said.
However, hours after the suspension from office of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Zenith Bank of Nigeria’s Group Managing Director and CEO, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has been nominated to replace him.
Already, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday sent Emefiele’s name to the Senate for confirmation.
His tenure will, however, start from June 4, when Sanusi’s six-year tenure will end.
Along with Emefiele, President also sent the name of Adelabu Adekoya, currently an executive director with First Bank of Nigeria, to the Senate for screening and approval as deputy governor to succeed Tunde Lemo who retired late last year.
However,Sanusi, says he intends to challenge the legality of his suspension from office, to establish whether President Goodluck Jonathan has the legal authority to take such decision.
“It has never been my desire to hold on to a job. However, I believe if the CBN governor cannot be removed from office, then he cannot be suspended. He can be queried, but the exercise of the arbitrary decision to remove him must be challenged,” he said.
Mr. Sanusi was speaking to the cable news network, CNBC Africa, from Niamey, the Nigerien capital, shortly after news broke that he had been suspended from office by the Presidency.
The former governor, who was in Niamey to attend the ongoing conference of the West African currency zone with other governors of the Central Banks in West African, said he had to hurriedly leave venue of the meeting shortly after the Nigerian Ambassador to Niger confirmed to him the directive by the Presidency to inform him of the suspension.
Though he said he was not bothered about the suspension as an individual, as he was proud about his achievements and legacies, Mr. Sanusi said his plan to challenge the action bordered on the need to protect the independence of the CBN as an institution.
“As an individual, I was invited to serve my country, and I have always known that at any point the government feels it is time to go, I will go. But, in terms of the institution, it would be helpful to establish the principle by the court, and I think that is the step I intend to take,” Sanusi said.
In spite of his decision to challenge the decision in court “to establish once and for all if the President has the powers to do what he has done,” Sanusi said he has resolved not to return to the job.
“If it (the decision) is not challenged, then from now the next CBN governor cannot be independent. He can be suspended for any reason, and the independence of the CBN would be totally undermined. It is important to establish the point legally whether this can happen. I do plan to ask the court to confirm if, indeed, that authority exists. I will challenge it,” he said.
Expressing surprise that the decision took so long in coming, he pointed out that though one can suspend the individual, he did not believe the truth can be suspended.
“This is all about concerns around oil revenues and corruption in the oil sector. If the suspension is going to bring back the missing $20 billion, then it is fine,” he said.
He said his major concern was for the financial system, particularly the negative impact of the decision on the Nigerian economy and the need to protect the interest of the CBN.
He listed the legacies of his tenure at the CBN to include slow inflation rate, stable exchange rate, well governed banking system, robust reserves, independent central bank and financial inclusion, pointing out that he was satisfied with the service he rendered, which he would not want to see unravelled.
On allegations by the Presidency that his suspension was based on the report received from the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) and other investigating agencies about various acts of financial misconduct that characterized his tenure, Sanusi said he intends to see what those allegations are when he returns to the country.
Sounding dismissive of the allegations, Sanusi said the only thing he was aware of, which are not new, were the questions asked by FRCN about the published CBN audited account, which he had since sent a response to the President, who did not give any feedback.
He dismissed insinuations that the decision was politically motivated, saying he has opted not to comment on that, pointing out that he believed it was the consequence of the actions he took while in office.
On the capacity of his successor, Sarah Alade, to sustain the momentum of his achievements, Sanusi described her as a very competent person, whom he has every confidence in to run the CBN successfully.
Nevertheless, officials of the State Security Service (SSS) have seized the travelling documents of suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, shortly after he arrived Lagos from Niger, where he had gone to attend a meeting of governors of central banks in the West African sub-region.
Shortly after his plane landed at the ExecuJet Terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, he was accosted by plain clothe operatives who detained him briefly and insisted he must surrender his passport.
They also insisted that he would not be allowed to leave the airport until the Lagos state director of the SSS arrives.
But after a while, the operatives had a change of heart after communicating with their superiors. The CBN governor was allowed to leave but only after his passport was confiscated.
The embattled governor had himself been aware of the plan to arrest him, compelling him to change his travel plans. He landed in Lagos instead of Abuja.
In Lagos, Sanusi’s associates and friends, led by a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai, were on hand to receive him at the airport.
They drove out of the airport in a convoy heading towards Ikoyi.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday rejected President Goodluck Jonathan’s suspension of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
The House took the decision yesterday after adopting a motion on the matter moved by Minority Whip, Samson Osagie.
Osagie argued that Sanusi’s suspension was unconstitutional and antithetical to Nigeria’s economy coming at the time the CBN governor raised some concerns about missing funds.
He said the timing was wrong and Sanusi should not be washed away as he was only carrying out his duties as the chief executive officer of the apex bank.
He said the manner in which Sanusi was suspended was bereft of fairness as the man was not given any query, adding that the issues he raised ought to have been diagnosed thoroughly.
However, the motion drew a lot of controversy among the lawmakers as some kicked against it vehemently.
Leading opposition on the motion, Deputy House Leader, Leo Ogor, said the president is constitutionally empowered to appoint any individual into an office and sack him when something is wrong.
The House was thrown into a moment of confusion when some lawmakers booed Ogor, in disagreement with his position.
Some lawmakers wanted to contribute further, but Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal ended the matter by putting it to vote.
Overwhelming majority of the lawmakers present at the plenary voted in favour of the motion.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan’s suspension of respected Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, yesterday, has triggered significant shock wave across the financial and money markets in Nigeria and elsewhere, causing the Naira to fall more than 1 per cent against the Dollar.
The Naira, quite expectedly, fell sharply yesterday to N169 to a Dollar.
The bond market also remained shut for the day.
Across the world, the shock wave of the president’s action has elicited serious reactions.
For instance, Head of Economic Research, ECOBANK, Angus Downie, said, “Sanusi did a fantastic job as governor and it will be very difficult to find someone that can continue his line of effort in restructuring the banking sector and strengthening monetary policy to the next phase.
“He was due to step down in June but when something unexpected like this happens it does raise concerns about what is happening with the direction of policy in Nigeria.
Economist at Nigerian Stockbroker, CSL, Alan Cameron, “It’s not so much what it does to the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria), which we believe had a strong institutional foundation and skilled leaders, but what it says about the Presidency itself.
“If the Jonathan administration is willing to discard a safe pair of hands at a time when the currency is being tested anyway, it shows more political motivation than economic awareness.
“Speaking from the perspective of international investors, this is likely to go down badly.”
Economist, NKC Economists in Cape Town, South Africa, Melissa Verreyne, argued that, “This is very worrying for the central bank’s independence, and creates uncertainty about the future monetary policy direction.
“The strange allegations made against Mr Sanusi, and the fact that the government was not content with simply letting his term expire, appear to be aimed at sending a warning to outspoken central bank officials.
“The ability of the central bank to criticise fiscal policy and the remittance of oil revenue is important, as it improves the accountability of the public sector.
Africa Analyst, RENCAP, Yvonne Mhango, said, “Sanusi’s suspension does raise concern among investors about the ability to sustain the naira at present levels. We will see more pressure on the currency between now and June, and more weakness than we had anticipated prior to this news.
Head of Africa Research, Standard Chartered, Razia Khan, said, “The nature of the suspension will come as a significant shock to foreign portfolio investors, whose willingness to invest in Nigeria was very much influenced by the transparency and anti-inflation credibility associated with Sanusi’s policies.
Emerging Markets Strategist, Standard Bank, Samir Gadio, said, “This is a disruptive move which indicates that the CBN has de facto lost much of its independence.
“Clearly it is driven by political motives given Sanusi’s vocal criticism of oil revenue leakages and the opaque fiscal system in Nigeria.
Similarly, a former Minister of Education in the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr. Obi Ezekwesili, has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of being against accountability.
Ezekwesili said this in reaction to the suspension of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
In the reaction on her Twitter handle, Ezekwesili said for Sanusi to be removed while the inquisition into a missing $20 billion from the account of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation was ongoing was an indication that Jonathan hated accountability.
She tweeted: “For CBN Governor to be suspended when serious issue of missing $20 billion that he raised remains unresolved shows intolerance for accountability.”
Sanusi had raised the alarm about the missing money from the over $67 billion generated by the NNPC.
Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow
The Rivers State Government has rolled out the drums to herald another phase of official commissioning of key projects embarked upon by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.
A statement by the state government said that the process is in continuation of the commissioning and flag-off of projects by Governor Nyesom Wike.
It indicated that Rumuola flyover would be commissioned tomorrow, while the GRA flyover would be commissioned on Saturday.
The also stated that the government would commission the Ezimgbu Road on Monday, December 13, 2021; with another commissioning of Tombia Road Extension scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The statement said that the governor would commission the Safe Home, Borikiri, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, December 15; while on Thursday, December 16, 2021, the governor would commission the Odokwu internal roads.
Also, the governor would continue the flag-off of key infrastructure projects with Chokocho-Igbodo Road slated for Monday, December 20, 2021; Oyigbo-Okoloma Road on Wednesday, December 22, 2021; and Magistrates’ Court Complex, Port Harcourt on Thursday, December 23, 2021.
Wike Justifies N7bn Libel Suit Against THISDAY
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, appeared before the state High Court in Port Harcourt, to testify as a witness in an N7billion libel suit against THISDAY Newspaper.
Wike said he was in court to seek justice and clear his name as a person from the malicious publication by THISDAY Newspaper, which portrayed him as deceitful, untrustworthy person, who exerts subterranean influences on judicial matters and over court sittings in Port Harcourt.
It would be recalled that Wike had in August, 2020, slammed a N7billion suit being damages for libel written and published in THISDAY’s Tuesday, June 23, 2020 edition captioned, “With Wike, Obaseki Meets His PDP’s Waterloo; Almost.”
The defendants in the suit are THISDAY Newspapers Limited, Leaders and Company Limited, Davidson Iriekpan, Chuks Okocha and Adibe Emenyonu.
Wike, while testifying as witness in suit No. PHC/1505/CS/2020 before the court presided over by Justice A. Enebeli, asserted that the defendants maliciously and falsely portrayed him as an unreliable friend/person.
“When you say somebody cannot be trusted; that cannot be a fair comment. When you say somebody is influencing the Judiciary, that cannot be a fair comment”, the governor said.
In his written statement on oath, Wike had stated that the defendants had accused him of influencing the decision of the court sitting in Port Harcourt that granted an injunction restraining Godwin Obaseki from participating in the primaries of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State in 2020.
He stated that the defendants maliciously accused him of undemocratically exerting influence on the primaries process of PDP in Edo State in aid of his ally, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, who was the beneficiary of the court order restraining Obaseki from participating in the PDP primaries.
The governor, who told the court that he was not even aware of the aforementioned suit by Ogbeide-Ihama against Obaseki, said the publication was reckless, false and without regards for the truth.
According to him, contrary to well-known journalistic tradition and practices, the defendants did not investigate properly to ensure the information they relied on was accurate.
“They did not seek to verify the facts from me or in any manner oblige me with the opportunity to state my own side of the story before proceeding to make the false publication” the governor argued.
Wike stated that the defendants further denigrated him before the entire world as a fake democrat, who engages in meddling in the internal affairs of All Progressives Congress (APC) in order to get at his political foe, Chibuike Amaechi.
The governor explained that he was not a member of the APC and has had no hand in the internal crisis which has bedevilled the party both in Rivers State and all over Nigeria.
“By the letter of Messrs E.C. Ukala and Co., Solicitors, under the hand of Emmanuel C. Ukala, SAN, dated 23rd June, 2020, the defendants were given opportunity to retract, and recant the publication as well as to offer apology for the false publication but the defendants spurned the opportunity and ignored the letter completely.”
The governor, while responding to claim by lawyer to the defendants, Turudu Ede, SAN, that the essence of the lawsuit was to intimidate and harass his clients, said the whole essence of the suit was to get justice and clear his name as a man of substantial character, honour and repute.
“The essence of the suit is to get justice since they (defendants) refused to retract the publication or apologise. So, I sued them to clear my name.”
Speaking to journalists outside the court, one of the lawyers to Wike, Mr. Mark Agwu said his client was in court to seek legal redress.
“To challenge him as a person, it means you have made him untrustworthy, a deceit, a cheat, an influencer of the court, because the publication they made was that he had a role to play in influencing the outcome of that Federal High Court case. Nobody will take that lightly, and especially for a man who believes in the rule of law”, Agwu added.
The court adjourned the matter for further hearing to 12th, 13th and 14th of January, 2022.
$130m Fraud: Rivers Sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Firm, Others
The Rivers State Government has charged two construction firms, Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd, to court over an alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the state of the sum of $130million, being advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt.
In a 16-count criminal charge filed by the Director of Public Prosecution, C.F. Amadi for the Rivers State Attorney General, the state alleged that after collecting the said sum as advanced payment between 2011 and 2018, the defendants have not kept their obligation under the contract.
Others charged alongside the companies were Walter Peviana; Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe; Giandomenico Zingali; Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli, who are directors and officers of the companies.
The defendants are charged with various offences ranging from conspiracy, cheating and obtaining credit by false pretence, contrary to Section 518 (6) and (7) and punishable under Section 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999, section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State, amongst others.
Already, the Rivers State Government has issued a fiat to the law firm of Godwin Obla (SAN) to prosecute the matter before the state High court.
The defendants are equally charged for the offence of false Statements by Officials of Companies contrary to and punishable under Section 436 (b).
The prosecution specifically accused the defendants of obtaining credit of $130million by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $20,467,942.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b), obtaining credit of N7,000,000,000.00 only by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b).
They are charged for obtaining credit of N318,640,173.54, by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); attempt to cheat $97million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; attempt to cheat $15million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; conspiracy to receive a credit of $97million by false pretences contrary to Section 518 (6) and punishable under Section 518; cheating $11million contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating N110, 097, 416.51 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating by collecting sums attributable to shared facilities already paid for in AFAM Phase I in AFAM Phase II contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421.
Obtaining N20, 467, 942 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; obtaining credit of $60,168,936.00 by false pretences or other fraud, contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $1,512,034.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) all of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.
According to the Proof of Evidence attached to the charge and the statement made by the Head, Power Generation/Mechanical of the Rivers State Ministry of Power, one Mr Temple Azunda M., the facts constituting the case in hand are as follows:
Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited and other officers of the duo, herein the Defendants, are Italian companies which services have been retained by the Rivers State Government, herein RSG, in several projects, prominent amongst which is the AFAM Phase II Power Plant Project.
By an initial tripartite agreement made on the January 20, 2010, the RSG under the auspices of the Rivers State Ministry of Power entered a contract with Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, Saipem SPA for the construction of the OGCT power plant in Port Harcourt at a total cost of $119million consequent upon which the Rivers State Government made advance payments, in instalments, to Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd and Saipem SPA amounting in total to a sum of $130million in all which the Defendants have acknowledged receipt of.
The Defendants were to be given an initial mobilization of 20per cent of the total contract sum which the RSG paid.
It was part of the initial agreement – and indeed a condition sine qua non – that, to access the 2nd tranche of payment of 25per cent from the Rivers State Government, the Defendants would mandatorily have installed the Gas Turbine into the foundations as referenced in ATTACHMENT 1 to VO 007 which states that:
CONTRACTOR shall be entitled to a payment corresponding to 20per cent of the VO No. 007 LS PRICE upon mobilisation to site and commencement of bush clearing activities at SITE.
Upon commencement of bush clearing activities at the site, the contractor shall issue the invoice relevant to the above payment and the owner shall pay such invoice within 14 days from its issuance.
The parties agree that no deduction for recovery of advance payment shall apply on the payment due to the contractor for invoices issued by the contractor in accordance with this paragraph.
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