The presidency yesterday described suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as a cheap blackmailer who is falsely portraying his recent suspension from office as an attempt by government to coverup for the $20 billion allegedly not remitted to the nation's coffers by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, said it was most unfortunate for Sanusi to cynically choose to "whip up public sympathy for himself and anger against the federal government by deliberately misleading unwary Nigerians and the international community into believing the falsehood that he is being punished for exposing corruption", instead of trying to provide some reasonable response "to the clear and unambiguous query of his official conduct as governor of the Central Bank".
Abati was reacting to a recent interview Sanusi granted a foreign media in which he alleged that his threat to force commercial banks to open up their books to unravel the whereabouts of the "missing" funds led to his suspension.
In a statement made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday evening, he said: "The Presidency condemns Mallam Sanusi's resort to playing politics with serious national issues. His suggestion that the phantom missing funds may have been diverted to fund campaigns for next year's general elections is mischievous, irresponsible and designed to incite other political parties and members of the public against the federal government."
Noting that Sanusi will not get away with the allegations against the government, Abati said: "Mallam Sanusi's allegations are patently untrue but government is making no effort to bury them as he falsely claims. Relevant committees of the National Assembly are still investigating the claims and the suspended CBN governor remains free to give evidence before them in support of his allegations."
Abati reaffirmed the presidency's position that Sanusi's suspension had absolutely nothing to do with "his unproven and inconsistent claim that $49.8 billion, $12 billion or $20 billion is missing from the national treasury.
Abati further claimed that the federal government had ordered a reputable firm to undertake a forensic audit of the NNPC account to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of Sanusi's allegation that $20 billion oil revenue was not remitted by the corporation to government coffers.