FLASHBACK: FRCN’s allegations: Would Sanusi face criminal prosecution ? The dilemma of the presidency.

Should this case not be reopened for trial?. Is he still a sacred cow?

The case before the presidency and NNPC were blackmailed with the $49, 20, 18, 12 billion allegations……..

  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.”
The move to sack Sanusi had long been rumored in the media as far back as June, last year.

It was however smothered by intervening developments including the fact that at the behest of the suspended CBN governor, some northern elders had prevailed on the president to soften on wielding the big stick against the alleged erring CBN boss.

There were also intervening developments in the polity such as the then alleged fractionalization of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), led by dissidents who teamed to form the now rested new PDP.

Other developments in the polity included the unremitting onslaughts of the Islamist terror sect Boko Haram; as well as the controversial “season of open letters,” said to have been  inaugurated by the leaked letter of Sanusi to Jonathan alleging that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had failed to remit $50 billion to the Federation Account.

As has been indicated, the recommendation of Sanusi’s sack by FRCN – the body formerly known as the Nigerian Accounting Standards Board – dates as far back as last June.

An earlier audit of the books of the apex bank in May, last year, by its external auditors, Ernst and Young, had caused eyebrows to be raised in the presidency, following which the FRCN was invited to test the CBN’s books for compliance with statutory best practice.

The organization’s 13-page report on Sanusi’s CBN, dated June 7, 2013, and on which his suspension was grounded, was damning.

It is said to have ripped apart the 2012 audited financial statement of the CBN and exposed what it termed as Sanusi’s  CBN’s ‘clear display of incompetence,’ ‘excesses and wastefulness,’ as well as ‘fraud.’

According to the report, the particulars of infractions against Sanusi are indeed legion, few being: Persistent refusal and/or negligence to comply with the Public Procurement Act (PPA) in the procurement practices of the CBN.

It stated that by virtue of Section 15(1)(a) of the PPA, institutions of the Federal Government, including the CBN, were expected to comply with provisions of the Act.

However, the apex bank under Sanusi’s leadership refused and/or neglected to comply with the said provisions, whose primary purport was the need to promote transparency, competitiveness, cost effectiveness and professionalism in the public sector procurement system.

According to the FRCN, Sanusi’s CBN for years engaged in procurement of goods, works and services worth billions of naira each year without complying with the express provisions of the PPA, thereby occasioning financial recklessness, waste and impunity, as demonstrated by the contents of its 2012 financial statements.

It maintained that the unacceptable level of financial recklessness displayed by Sanusi’s leadership of the apex bank was typified by the execution of ‘Intervention Projects’ across the country.

Hitherto, the CBN under Sanusi had expended over N163 billion on about 63 of such projects across the country.

The FRCN report thus stated, “it is inexcusable and patently unlawful for any agency of government to deploy huge sums of money, as the CBN has done, without appropriation and outside the CBN’s statutory mandate.

It maintained: “It is trite that the expenditure of public funds by any organ of government must be based on clear legal mandates, prudent costing and overriding national interest.”

The report also observed that the apex bank flouted Corporate Governance Codes, as under Sanusi the CBN was unable to prepare its financial statements using applicable International Financial Reporting Standards (IFFS) whereas Deposit Money Banks, which the CBN supervises, have complied with this national requirement since 2012.

The FRCN also accused the CBN under Sanusi of infracting section 34 (b) of the CBN Act 2007, which provides that the apex bank shall not, except as provided in Section 31 of the Act, inter alia, purchase the shares of any corporation or company, unless pursuant to the approval or authority of the Federal Government.

However, the CBN in 2010, outside the knowledge of the presidency, acquired 7 per cent shares of International Islamic Management Corporation of Malaysia to the tune of N0.743 billion.

The report also accused Sanusi’s CBN of assisting its staff to evade tax, as the apex bank under Sanusi’s watch failed or refused to implement the provisions of the Personal Income Tax (Amendment) Act 2007.

It continued to compute the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) deductions of its staff in accordance with the defunct Personal Income Tax Act 2004, thus effectively assisting its staff to evade tax.

There was also a legion of alleged bogus expenditure by the apex bank under Sanusi, which appears totally indefensible.

They include N3.086 billion spent on “promotional activities” in 2012 despite not being in competition with any other institution in Nigeria.

N20.202 billion was also allegedly spent on ‘Legal and Professional Fees’ in 2011 alone; and N1.3 billion in 2012 on ‘Private Guards’ and ‘Lunch for Policemen,’ among many others.

Section 6 (3) (c) of the CBN Act 2007 was also breached, the report alleged.

Accordingly, contrary to the provision of the said enactment, which provides that the board of the CBN shall make recommendations to the President on the rate of remuneration to Auditors, the bank even went to the extent of changing one of the Joint External Auditors without notifying the Presidency.

The report further indicated that external audit revealed balances of sundry foreign currencies. Yet there were no physical stock of foreign currencies in the CBN Head Office.

The apex bank also allegedly wrote off N40 billion loan of a bank in a questionable gambit plus a N1 billion donation it made in favour of a political party.

These probing allegations have continued to jolt the imagination of concerned Nigerians; which is why many believe that Sanusi’s suspension is in order, as it will pave way for untrammeled investigation of the apex bank under the man, at least for the purpose of unearthing of the truth.

Some lawyers, however, maintain that the government should tread softly with instituting criminal action against the man, saying the move may overheat the polity.

Indeed, ever since Sanusi’s suspension was announced, the activities of Islamist terrorists have coincidentally spiked, becoming more frequent in parts of the northeast like Borno and Yobe States.

It goes without saying that Sanusi’s tenure at the CBN was marked by political dabbling.

Once, the man acted as Boko Haram spokesman when in 2012 he tried to justify the sect’s onslaughts as partly a reaction to federal government’s continued funding of the 13 per cent derivation formula in favor of Niger Delta States, which, according to him, had left the north more impoverished than other parts of the country.

Besides, apart from allegedly donating N1 billion to the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC), he had also donated money to victims of the sect’s attack in his home state of Kano, among others.

Thus, many see the man as politically involved, maintaining that touching him may inevitably constitute a touching of the apple of some disgruntled people’s eyes.

This line of thought has been canvassed by Barrister Phil Olisa-Ashiri while conversing with Daily Newswatch in a telephone chat.

According to him, “I would say that the prosecution of Sanusi – if investigations establish criminal offences against him – may engender an overheating up of the polity.

“The polity is already heated up considering that we are in the eve of an election year. So to commence the prosecution of Sanusi any moment soon may likely inflame passions in some quaters.

“For now it would be enough if he is indicted. An indictment will keep him from being considered for any public office.

“That is also good for the government in the sense that the man’s penchant for recklessly running his mouth would be curtailed.

“I am however not in anyway saying that a criminal action should not be brought against him for whatever reason.

“I would rather that his trial should be a little delayed. I guess it should commence when a new government emerges in 2015, after-all the statute of limitation does not apply to criminal matters.

“I mean that time does not run against the power of the state to prosecute an offender.

“So a crime committed now may be brought for trial anytime, even in the future.

“All the state needs is sufficient evidence needed for entering an action against an alleged offender.”
In this connection, it is believed that the Jonathan administration owes Nigerians the duty of damning the political consequences and testing the allegations against Sanusi in a competent court of law.

Many feel this is urgently required to prove that government’s action against the man was not just a witch-hunt, but one informed by utmost good faith and the public good.

 

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