11 January 2013

Nigeria: EFCC Grills Soludo, Ex-CBN Gov, Others

Photo: WEF
Former Central Gank Chief Chukwuma Soludo.

Former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Prof Charles Soludo, was Thursday arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

He was picked up from his Abuja residence, a source in EFCC confirmed to Vanguard. There were strong indications last night that the ex-CBN Governor might be detained by the commission overnight.

Vanguard gathered that Soludo's arrest was in connection with the controversial contract he awarded to an Australian firm for the printing of polymer currency notes while he was governor of the CBN between 2006 and 2008.

He is in our custody -- EFCC source

EFCC source said: "We have Soludo in our custody and it is part of an ongoing investigation over his involvement in the award of contract and printing of polymer banknotes when he was the governor of the CBN."

The source said that no fewer than 12 other senior CBN and Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company officials, suspected to have been involved in the currency scam during Soludo's tenure, had also been arrested and taken into the custody of the anti-graft agency.

Late President Umaru Yar'Adua with the former CBN governor launched the new N5, N10 and N50 polymer notes on September 30, 2009 at the Presidential Villa.

The circulation of the new bank notes coincided with Nigeria's 49th Independence day celebration.

But there had been allegations of shady deals between some CBN officials and Securency International Pty of Australia.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) had already probed the alleged N750million offered by Securency to win the contract.

Although the contract for the printing of N5, N10, N50 notes were awarded in April 2009, the bribery scandal involving Securency was allegedly perpetrated in 2006.

Soludo, others to be charged to court

It was gathered that the commission had concluded arrangements to charge Soludo and the other suspects to court.

The source said: "As soon as the Commission concludes its ongoing investigations and we have enough evidence, Soludo and others will be charged to court to face prosecution."

EFCC's Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the arrest of Soludo and others by the agents of the commission but refused to give details.

Vanguard, however, gathered authoritatively that Soludo's arrest followed a strong petition by a human rights group in May 2012, calling on the Commission to investigate the controversial contract awarded by the former CBN boss for the printing of polymer banknotes.

The group had alleged wrongdoing by Soludo and other Nigerian officials in the purported banknote printing and alerted the security agencies to arrest and prosecute all those involved in the multi-million Naira contract.

The petition had drawn the attention of the anti-corruption agencies to the fact that the firm that reportedly got the job from Soludo admitted paying some N750 million in bribes to some officials of the CBN between 2006 and 2008 in order to secure the contract to make polymer notes for Nigeria.

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