ere we go again; Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has taken refuge with the Court Injunction not to appear before the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria. A public policy critic, a career banker and ranking Fulani nobleman, respected Islamic scholar, with a degree in Sharia and Islamic Studies from the African International University in Khartoum, Sudan, Central Bank Governor of the Year, as well as for Central Bank Governor of the Year for Africa, one of the 100 list of most influential people of 2011, has disgracefully forced FRC to suspend further inquiry into the activities of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi due to the Court injunction.
What unfortunate judicial process in the country called Nigeria that the most virulent Nigerians would always get away from any atrocities they committed simply that they have the 'key' to 'who is who' in Nigeria as they commit the worst atrocity known to man. Sanusi, an advocate of due process, with nothing to hide, went all the way for a restraining order by a Federal High Court Lagos stopping the Investigative Panel of the Financial Reporting Council that is probing financial accounts of CBN, between 2011 and 2012, as he had earlier declined FRC invitation. These lousy public servants have mortgaged the mental capabilities of the Nigeria Judiciary as it comically blocks the process of the truth from the source.
Haba Nigeria Judiciary! Is this how to cleanse the system of irregularities by blocking the due process?
The Court injunction has endorsed the claim that FRC's invitation to Sanusi is on "the basis of bias, breach of the rules of natural Justice, absence of statutory power, violation of the rule of law, and conduct prejudicial to good public administration and the special position of the Central Bank of Nigeria."
The Court Injunction is a distortion of the process that Sanusi legal team is pushing the exercise into the farce amphitheatre from claiming that the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria Act 2011, in particular Sections 7, 8, 11, 25, 28, 58(2) and 62 thereof, the FRC lacks the authority and the powers to conduct the investigation it seeks to undertake. This could be one of the crude cash and carry lawyers Sanusi hired for his case.
Since Sanusi has blocked the FRC investigation, his case is now in the Peoples Court of Public Forum.
Coincidentally, I happened to be on the same flight with Sanusi to Abuja from Lagos, March 11, 2014 on his way to appear at the Abuja Federal High Court slated for March 12, 2014; which was later aborted for the absence of the Judge from the Court, who happened to be on training. Sanusi sat so quietly, peacefully demonstrating almost the same public body language like myself, when it comes to public issues. I continued to gawk at him as he sat quietly. As we alighted at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, I had to move closer to him again in the bus to the luggage claim area. The man walked quietly as if he could not move a feather. He could have honorably disengaged from the political appointment, when he felt disgruntled by his position as CBN Governor. After exchanging some pleasantries with the Prince of Kano, in his traditional regalia with his wife, some passengers gazed at him with contempt.
Some of Nigeria public officials see themselves as above the law, because they know their fellow cohorts in the Government. When there are some allegations against your public office, it is imperative on the employer to find out if such allegations are true or false. If found wanting, such individual is legally processed, return to work or fired. An employer has the legal backing to suspend, with or without pay, depending on the gravity of the offence. Going to court is like saying that the President has no right to suspend Sanusi, one of the untouchables.
Coincidentally, some aggrieved shareholders of defunct Intercontinental Bank of Nigeria, that was phased out despite all positive IB reports, has taken Sanusi to court; waiting, if Sanusi is going to block that again with a court injunction. The IB stakeholders are of the opinion that Sanusi, as the CBN governor, acted contrary to the provisions of sections 12, 32, 35 and 39 of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, Cap B4 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, by deliberately falsifying the actual financial state of affairs/solvency of Intercontinental Bank Plc and subsequently sold it to his cronies at a ridiculous sum of N50 billion. Sanusi can keep on running; he can never hide away from the truth, as he rightly stated that the President can never run away from the truth. The truth will gradually surface as time progresses.
In a simple language, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as CBN Governor, suspension was overdue, as he was too political and reckless in all ramifications. Sanusi as CBN Governor should have championed, not inciting citizens against his employer.
Some members of the National Assembly, kicking against the suspension of the CBN Governor, refused to acknowledge that the President has the power to hire, suspend, and fire. Sanusi should have been fired long time ago. Once you are too political on an appointed position, you are bound to give way for a neutral individual to manage the affairs that cut across all political, ethnic, religious, and International lines. An average Nigerian following the political trend of Sanusi in his Royal opulence should not be surprised about the suspension notice the Federal Government put on him.
The President does not have to seek the approval of the Senate before he fires any of his political appointees. Definitely, Jonathan is not naïve to lay claim that he did not discuss with the key leaders of the Senate, before the suspension axe fell on Sanusi. The president getting permission from the Senate before firing any of his appointees is not part of Senate untraced oversight responsibilities. I believe the President has justification on the decision to suspend the much political loaded with religious financial recklessness of CBN Governor.
Sanusi is the first CBN governor to have habitually engaged the press on the political conduit. His predecessors were bureaucrats who hardly spoke in the public. Sanusi alerted the whole world that $49.8 billion (N7, 898,280,000,000.00), realized from the sales of crude oil between January 2012 and July 2013 were not remitted to the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. On Wednesday, December 18, 2013, Sanusi swallowed his pride and came out with his distorted financial accounting procedure that NNPC did not remit $12 billion to the account within the period.
The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, faulted the CBN Governor's position, that they "found about $10.8 billion…" not the "mentioned $12billion;" Sanusi agreed.
He consequently regretted that his communication to the President was deliberately leaked to the public.
As the Country's chief treasurer, Sanusi is expected to be well informed about the money of the Federation Account, working with his team of experts on modalities for collecting revenues in the oil and gas industries. Nigerians are looking beyond Sanusi's political game, or sentiments, and demand to know how money goes in and out of the Federation Account.
Could we say that the alterations on the missing remittance is a demonstration of gross incompetence by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, which awarded Okonjo Iweala with the altercations with the House Committee on Finance abattoir table, when she took ill, with the rude handling of her presence, to furnish the Committee with answers to 50 comprehensive examination questions on the missing 'money' allegedly stated by Sanusi. By implication, Sanusi has no adequate knowledge of what his job requires or that he has compromised the integrity the office of the CBN governor. It is considered a twist as tragic and a signal that people who are ignorant of the demands of their jobs manage the country's economy. Alternatively, in a simple language, he played to the political gallery, which should not be, as a public appointed official.
During that period, the rancor in the House of Representatives focussed on the impeachment of Nigeria President on the 'missing' money; unlike the mystery behind the missing Malaysian 737 Plane. There was the heavy decamping in the Nigeria House of Representatives, from PDP to APC for those that would pick race at the sound of pigeons, a bunch of chorus singers. What a wrong political message that vibrates around the world.
In the hiring process in any corporation, the direction of the corporate business is determined by the category of individuals hired to do the job. If the selection process is wobbly, definitely, the end result would not be good for the employing agency. We believe that Sanusi's appointment as CBN Governor was the wrong person for the job in the first instance: because of the area he comes from; whosoever blocked Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo second term, and influenced late Yar'Adua to appoint Sanusi as CBN Governor, fuelling his outright political and royal undertones, through "quota".
As a matter of fact, CBN Governor should be the last person to publicly comment on an issue like missing money in the weak Nigeria economy, realizing the fact that the comment of a Central Bank Governor can collapse the country's economy. Unfortunately, Sanusi reacts to emotion rather than thinking it through. A school of thought is of the opinion that he lacks the temperament of a Central Bank Manager. This kicks in his reliability and trait needed to handle a place like the CBN governor, realizing the fact that any statement he makes becomes very susceptible. Ironically, Sanusi has played to the gallery. What he has done has damaged that part of his reputation as an economist and career banker.
We share with the suspended CBN Governor in many areas, considering Nigeria being the world's eighth larger exporter of petroleum which makes up nearly 40 percent of its GDP and 80 percent of government revenue with nothing good to show for it. In addition, despite its natural resources, or wealth from oil, Nigeria still faces significant political and developmental challenges, including infrastructure development, anti-corruption, and service delivery.
The CBN Governor and other public officials are not above the law, regardless. Transparency and accountability have been a challenge in the management of Nigeria resources and the role of the Nigerian National Assembly; especially its oversight responsibilities have been catastrophic. Most of the members of the National Assembly, that are supposed to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within their legislative competence, and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it, are seriously guilty of such, hiding under their law making process. The National Assembly approves the budgets, directs and controls the Federal parastatals, ministries on how such contracts should be awarded under their fake companies for those who font for them.
Nigeria as well as the International body is very much familiar with the Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria. As soon as it landed in Kano, the CBN Governor donated a whooping sum of N100million to the victims. Was that the first place Boko Haram attacked the North? This type of donation definitely developed some religious and ethnic branches. He later donated N25m to victims of the bomb blast at the St. Theresa Catholic Church in Abuja.
Sanusi policy decision over donations could be branched to religious and ethnic lines, which has been the element of the Nigeria politics. Many Churches were attacked without the sympathy from the CBN. Other ethnic groups were attacked with the CBN looking the other way. Even the donation to the academic institutions like Ado Bayero University recorded N1m as against the N4m purportedly to have been donated by CBN, is still looked at as Sanusi's adulterated donations.
On the controversial Islamic Banking a Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, in June 2012 made a proclamation that any operation licence granted by the CBN to any Islamic commercial jurisprudence bank under non-interest financial services was "unlawful, illegal, ultra vires, null and void." Regardless Sanusi went ahead with an investment of a huge amount of money in an Islamic bank in Malaysia.
Contrary to section 34 (b) of the CBN Act 2007 which provides that the CBN shall not, except as provided in Section 31 of the Act, inter alia, purchase the shares of any corporation of company, unless an entity set up by the approval or authority of the Federal Government, in 2010 CBN acquired 7% shares of International Islamic Management Corporation of Malaysia to the tune of N0.743 billion. Despite the objection, we would assume that a typical CBN governor would be very diplomatic in handling issues and policies relating to religion, especially in the handling of the introduction of the Islamic banking system in 2011.
One of his reform agenda was to destroy private ownership of banks, and for the rot in the system, no one could stop his recklessness. A school of thought is of the opinion that with his recklessness designating some Managing Directors as crooks, he cleverly scarf private banks and distributes its assets amongst his friends.
In a country, where coins are absence from its economy and other transactions, is a not economically healthy. Definitely all items in the market and transactions will be on zero dots. No change is available in all transactions in the country which makes the economy to be seriously sick. Anywhere you go for business to purchase goods items in Nigeria; in most cases, they do not have change. People always advise them to go to the Bank for change on a daily or regular basis to kick off their businesses each day.
What we found out is that at any social gatherings, you will find Nigerian brand new currencies notes, at N50.00, N100.00, N200.00, and N500.00, to change for those attending the functions where they would spray and belittle the currencies at reduced cost of the exchange. It means you have to pay at least N200.00 for every N1, 000.00 you change. Trading with the Nigerian new currencies in the open market is sickening.
Sanusi should have carried his activities in that direction, at least continue with the reforms of his predecessor, among others. Instead, he focussed on the introduction of a larger denomination of N5,000.00 to continue its inflationary programs.
One of the areas that some Nigerians get disgusted is the fact that some Nigeria public servants consider themselves to be above the law. When the Police invite some of them for questioning, based on some petitions or allegations levelled against them while in office, they hide under the tainted Nigeria Judiciary with the court injunction for Police not to touch the species from God, the untouchables, the Emperor; sometimes using bold faces, like Obazu masquerade. Ironically, the offspring of chameleon would always dance to the tune of their parents; as some politicians would warn the President to stop EFCC from harassing them as if they are not accountable to the citizens that they claim to protect, or work for.
What prevents Sanusi in appearing at FRC, as he claims to be working on the truth, with bold face, to appear and explain his involvement in the activities of the CBN between 2011 and 2012? What other activities would be different from his assigned responsibilities while using logic to seek clarity on the specific activities of the CBN sought to be investigated, to which he is yet to receive a response.
Sanusi can recycle his answers, regardless how many times he is invited on the allegations in the areas of corporate governance; fraudulent activities; charter fees; deposit for shares in Bank of Industry (BOI); Currency issue expenses; facilities management; fixed assets clearing account; operation of foreign bank Account; un-reconciled real time Gross settlement clearing account; missing stockpiles of foreign currency; alleged wastefulness; training and travel expenses; expenses on ATM policy change; expenses on non-interest banking; expenses on private Guards and Policemen; project eagles; newspapers, Books and periodicals; legal and professional fees; reduced expenses on ethics and anti-corruption; auditor's fees; abuse of due process; write off of N3.5 billion loan; overdrawn accounts by Ministries, Departments and Parastatals; investment in International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILMC); Non-Adoption of IFRS standards; Non-compliance with ITF Act; Non-consolidation of Accounts with subsidiaries; Abridgement of Financial statements; nonchalance and AMCON's operations; Non-approval of 2012 Financial statements by CBN Board; Compliance with the PPA; Unlawful expenditure on CBN intervention projects; and Akingbola petition and the N40billion loan water.
Regardless the direction of the allegation, the needed forensic investigation is seriously required, not Sanusi legal team blocking the investigation, to clear the bane of Nigeria public corrupt practices especially in the oil sector.
Sanusi should live up to his statement that; "If anybody wants to put me in prison I have always said just tell me what prison to go to and I would drive myself there, and pay my own transport fare there and I can maintain myself there in the period that you have set out for me...." The people's prison for now is the FRC to appear before it with FULL cooperation on the cloudy areas of his administration. Being accountable and transparent s what most Nigerians are demanding from their leaders in all ramifications?
Sanusi has no chutzpah for refusing to appear before a constituted authority to defend himself on the allegations levelled against him, obstructing the investigative powers of the FRC, which I believe is punishable by imprisonment.
How does Sanusi want to drive himself to prison if, and when, he is refusing to fuel the vehicle and threw the ignition key to the sharks in the ocean, while refusing to appear before FRC?
Sanusi, Drive Yourself to the FRC for questioning!
Femi Ajayi is a Professor of Policy, Management & Conflict Resolution, at Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State