The suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, on Sunday described President Goodluck Jonathan as a simple man trying to do well but surrounded by “extremely incompetent and fraudulent” aides.
Sanusi was suspended by Jonathan on Thursday over alleged financial misconduct, an action viewed by many analysts as politically-motivated.
In an interview with the Agence France Presse in Lagos, Sanusi said many of the people advising Jonathan were sycophants, who did not speak frankly about the extent of corruption in government.
He said, “When you sit with the President, he appears a nice and simple person who is trying to do his best.
“His greatest failing obviously is that he is surrounded by people who are extremely incompetent, who are extremely fraudulent and whom he trusts.”
Sanusi also faulted the seizure of his international passport by security agents, claiming that it “was the beginning of infringement on my fundamental human rights.”
Regarding the allegations against him, the suspended CBN chief said when he heard of a report condemning his performance, he wrote to Jonathan in “June or July” asking if an explanation was needed, but received no reply.
But he added that the first time he was formally notified of the allegations was the day (last Thursday) he was suspended.
He argued that it would be too simple to describe his removal as payback for his attacks on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
“Since 2009, I have been annoying the government… There are people who think I have the wrong friends; people who think maybe I have not distanced myself enough from people who are seen to be opposition figures,” he further said.
Sanusi argued that the extent of graft in the NNPC might have reached an historic high.
“I think everybody has known that NNPC is rotten. I don’t think it has ever been as bad as this,” he told the AFP.
According to Sanusi, the so-called kerosene subsidy money spent by the Federal Government in fact pays for “private jets…yachts… and expensive property(of some public office holders) in Beverly Hills (United States) and Switzerland.”
Sanusi,who ruled out running for elected office, said he still had a future in public service.
He voiced his readiness to face any attacks that might come from those committed to preserving the status.
“If I am sacrificed in whatever way, my freedom or my life… if it does lead to better accountability, it will be well worth it,” the Kano State-born banker added.
But just as Sanusi spoke,the Presidency said it was in possession of different kinds of petitions against him.
It said the petitions from within and outside the CBN centred on the same line of breaches by him.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, who was responding to a question on whether the Presidency was in possession of a petition from Dr. Erastus Akingbola, on alleged fraudulent takeover of Intercontinental Bank, said what was contained in the government official record was that Sanusi ran the CBN aground.
He said the government’s letter of suspension sent to him could be likened to a vote of no confidence in him.
The Presidential aide said, “There are all kinds of petition against the suspended CBN governors not just from Akingbola. There were so many allegations along the same line of breaches against him.
“There were complaints by people from the CBN and that is why the letter suspending him was very clear. In fact, that letter was like passing a vote of no confidence in Sanusi’s tenure.
“That is what is in the official record of the government: that he ran the place aground; that he ran the place with impunity; that he ran the place recklessly; that he ran the place without due recourse to its board .”
When asked if the government will encourage whoever that would succeed Sanusi to review his (Sanusi) policies, Abati replied, “I don’t think we have reached that stage yet.
“The name of the proposed CBN governor has been sent to the National Assembly. The National Assembly has yet to make a pronouncement on it. It is still at the level of nomination.
“So the Executive will not jump the gun by beginning to talk about what whoever becomes the CBN governor should do or not do. What we are assuring Nigerians and international investors is that the country’s monetary policy will remain stable. Investors have nothing to fear.”
When further asked why the government spared the CBN deputy governors despite the fact that the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria recommended that they should be sacked alongside the governor, Abati said investigation was still ongoing.
He said the objective of the government was not to shut down the bank.
He said, “Investigations are still continuing. In fact, if you read that report again, the first paragraph under recommendations asked for detailed investigations. “It is just commonsensical that if there is such a general indictment, the objective of government is not to shut down the CBN. In a situation like this, it makes sense that head is usually the symbol and investigations are continuing.
“It is not as if Sanusi has been removed, he has just been suspended to allow for further investigation. You can be sure that if any other official is indicted, such a person will not be protected.”
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