19 March 2014

Nigeria: Sanusi's Deputy, Moghalu, Moves Against Him

Photo: Premium Times
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

While suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, is trying very hard to clear his name from the indictment of financial recklessness by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) and the presidency, his colleagues appear to be gradually distancing themselves from actions taken during his reign at the regulatory bank.

A deputy governor at the bank and once a leading contender to replace Mr Sanusi, Kingsley Moghalu, told the U.K. Independent newspaper that his boss overstepped his authority.

"The lesson that can be drawn from it is the limits of central bank independence... There is a very thin line between central bank independence and... political posturing," Mr Moghalu said.

According to the Nigerian presidency, Mr. Sanusi was suspended on the strength a report by the FRCN, indicting him for financial recklessness.

But Mr. Sanusi said he was suspended for exposing the diversion of at least $20 billion oil revenue by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Mr. Sanusi also said that he believed that his suspension was hastened after he threatened to commission a special audit of all Nigerian banks to unravel the whereabouts of the missing $20 billion. He was suspended nine days after he made the threat at a meeting with the heads of Nigerian banks.

Further, in a statement released on Sunday, the CBN governor denied being reckless with the bank finances.

He said some of the "intervention" spendings for which he is being disparaged were actually made at the behest of the presidency.

"The governor began to make very damaging public allegations against the government... allegations that have not been proven, after the president had sent him a presidential query about the finances of the central bank. The government has given a reason for the suspension and that was... to enable an investigation into the allegations against him," Mr. Moghalu told the Independent.

"Somebody in the central bank was taking on an activist political role. That is not our function. Central banks over the world have clear functions and in your country [Britain] and any other civilised country I know that central bank governors operate within certain expectations and constraints and respect those expectations and constraints."

Ironically, the FRCN report, which was cited as a reason for Mr. Sanusi's suspension also indicted the deputy governors of the CBN. Mr Moghalu and his colleagues were also recommended for dismissal and prosecution.

But when asked about his indictment by the FRCN, Mr. Moghalu denied that he's under investigation or accused of any wrongdoing by the FRCN. He also said he has no plan to resign.

Mr Moghalu also told the Independent that President Goodluck Jonathan has always respected the independence of the CBN.

"The president of Nigeria and the government of Nigeria have never in my knowledge interfered with the function of the central bank. And therefore I think we need to give them credit for respecting [its] independence," he said.

Mr Moghalu said the CBN has been able to manage the sharp drop in the value of the naira that followed the shocked suspension of Mr Sanusi.

"Life is back to normal," he claimed.

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