A civil society group, Human Rights Writers’ Association, HURIWA, has asked the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Sanusi Lamido, to seek judicial redress over the $20 billion he alleged was not remitted to the federal purse by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
The group said a judicial interpretation on the matter had become necessary to ascertain the constitutional question of whether the Corporation was statutorily entitled to deduct foreign derived revenue from source before making payment to the Federation Account.
It stated this in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Director of Media, Zainab Yusuf, on Thursday.
Mr. Sanusi had on Tuesday, at a public hearing organized by the Senate Committee on Finance, alleged that the NNPC did not remit $20 billion into the Federation Account.
He had earlier accused the Corporation of not remitting $49 billion; but after reconciliation with relevant agencies, the amount reduced to about $12 billion.
The CBN Governor, however, explained that he did not make the allegation to tarnish anyone’s public image, but did so in the best interest of the country’s economy.
“HURIWA is of the conviction that judicial process is best suited for this kind of very sensitive matter to protect the nation’s fragile economy from suffering the consequences of loss of confidence by foreign direct investors and other industrialists,” the statement said.
The group said the financial health of Nigeria was of the highest essence that must be protected by all and sundry and especially government officials holding sensitive financial positions.
It stated that though whistle blowing had been internationally acclaimed as the most effective and potent tool against corruption, given the ‘politically suspicious’ manner and the wrong timing of these deluge of allegations of sleaze and financial malpractices made by the CBN governor on the eve of his departure from office, a judicial decision should be sought by the hierarchy of the bank to put the matter to rest.
It said there were speculations of the governor’s association with members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, the opposition party at the federal level.
The group noted that as the nation’s number one official banker, Mr. Sanusi was in the best position to know the various transactions on at the highest levels of government.
It, however, insisted that apart from presenting those damning evidence before the public, the CBN Governor should also seek judicial pronouncement for posterity and to justify his claim that he is not on a wild goose chase and jamboree of political vendetta.
HURIWA said that the Federal Ministry of Finance had not been forthcoming on the matter and accused it of behaving as if the interest of political leaders was more important than national interest.
It also asked the National Assembly to amend the Central Bank of Nigeria’s enabling Act to make it imperative that the holder of the office of Governor of CBN was insulated from political influences.
In making the law, HURIWA said the legislature should make it mandatory that the holder was not allowed to venture into party politics until after five years of exiting or quitting his appointment at the end of the statutory tenure.
The group also called for the appointment of a professional banker and economist of high repute from any part of the World irrespective of the person’s place of birth or nationality, but with clean crime free record, to head the Central Bank of Nigeria after the exit of the current holder.
It advised Nigeria to borrow a leaf from the British Government, which recently hired a Canadian scholar of Finance to head the British Central Bank
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