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Published On: Mon, Mar 24th, 2014

Suspension saga: Presidency moves to nail Sanusi Lamido

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Jonathan-and-Sanusi
  • Summons axed apex bank boss
  • Okupe, Jerry Gana meet Ag. CBN gov
  • NNPC adjusts for forensic audit

By Ahmed I. Shekarau, Lawrence Olaoye, Etuka Sunday, Joy Baba & Clem Khena-Ogbena

There are indications that the Presidency is making frantic efforts to silence the ‘loquacious’ suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, through credible materials indicting him of abusing his office, Peoples Daily has learnt at the weekend.

The government, according to our sources, is also exploring possibility of dialogue with Sanusi, whose recent revelations about the ‘missing’ $20 billion and where they are allegedly being kept have done greater damage to the administration’s reputation, nationally and internationally.

Sanusi, it would be recalled, was suspended by President Jonathan on February 20 this year, for alleged financial recklessness, allegations which the axed apex bank governor has since denied.

We learnt at the weekend that the Presidency appears to have difficulty finding incriminating evidence against Sanusi, even after it had perused three ‘Ghana-must-go’ bags of “relevant documents” supplied to it by the CBN on the various transactions over which the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) of Nigeria accused the former of abuse of office.

According to our disparate sources, the Presidency has now resorted to vetting records of the CBN’s operations under Sanusi, for possible proof of violations under the axed governor’s stewardship.

In line with this, one of our sources said the Director, Finance at the CBN, Mr. Ibrahim Mu’azu had been invited and questioned “on some issues” by the Directorate of State Services, otherwise known as SSS.

Also, as part of the government’s moves to discredit Sanusi, the Senior Special Adviser to the president on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, was said to have visited the headquarters of the apex bank on Friday, March 13, and held a closed door meeting with the acting CBN governor, Mrs. Sarah Alade.

Barely a week after, Professor Jerry Gana, who is a very close ally of the President, also visited and held a meeting with Mrs. Alade.

Although our sources said the series of meetings were aimed at “ensuring that Sanusi does not escape indictment”, an official of the CBN who confirmed the visits but declined to be quoted, said “they only visited the bank to encourage its top management to work harder to prove that the nation’s economy will remain stable even after Sanusi’s ouster”.

Meanwhile, Peoples Daily reliably learnt that the suspended CBN governor had on Tuesday last week received a letter from the Presidency inviting him to a meeting tomorrow in Abuja.

A source close to Sanusi said though he had expressed reservation about attending the meeting, he was being encouraged to attend as the tone of the letter sounded “conciliatory”.

In the meantime, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is said to be making some adjustments ahead of the proposed forensic audit ordered by Jonathan to unravel the mystery surrounding the $20 billion that Sanusi had accused the corporation of withholding from the Federation Account.

The NNPC had on Thursday last week announced the promotion and redeployment of 75 senior staff to various divisions, including the elevation of five group general managers to group executive directors. Although an official who did not want to be quoted said the changes have nothing to do with the proposed forensic audit, sources insist that it was a “smart move” to deprive the examiners some documents that would enhance their work.

The sources cited the elevation and redeployment of the corporation’s GGM Corporate Audit, Mohammed I. Inuwa to Deputy Managing Director, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), as example of the “smart move”.

However, efforts to reach Okupe to either deny or confirm his meeting with the acting CBN governor proved abortive.

Several calls to his mobile phone were unanswered just as he ignored a text message sent to his cell phone inquiring on the matter.

Similar efforts to get the former Information Minister, Gana, to react was futile as he could not be reached on his mobile phone.

Marilyn Ogar, official spokesperson to the SSS did not answer calls put through to her cell phone, and did not reply to a text message sent to her for confirmation, up to press time last night.

CBN’s Head of Communications, Isaac Okoroafor, who demanded that a text detailing the story be sent to him also failed to respond to it up to the time we went to press.

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