by Benson Agoha
Nigeria authorities ordered the seizure of International Passport of suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Lamido Sanusi.
Sanusi was suspended from office for claiming that N20billion was missing from the Nigeria National Petroleum Company, NNPC, prompting an order for an independent audit to find the missing money.
On Friday 10, January 2014, Woolwich Online reported the intriguing situation in Nigeria as the government moved to remove the governor, who initially refused to leave.
Relationship between President Goodluck Jonathan and Lamido Sanusi soured after former president Olusegun Obasanjo openly referred to some missing funds from the federation account, resulting in an open exchange correspondence between the incumbent and the former president, over the 'missing funds' put at $49.8billion.
President Goodluck had then asked the former CBN governor to resign immediately for leaking a letter Sanusi wrote to him over the alleged missing funds, to the former President.
Defending his administration, President Jonathan had expressed surprise that the former president would believe such story that "some USD$49.8 billion, a sum equal to Nigeria's entire national budget for two years, is “unaccounted for” by the NPC".
President Goodluck had then demanded an apology from the former President for misleading "unwary Nigerians and impugning the integrity of my administration on that score".
A twist to the saga was added when Mallam Sanusi was quoted to have publicly said he was "misconstrued".
His removal does not come entirely as a surprise because he had already rumoured to be `out of favour' for previously, openly criticising the administration of President Jonathan.
The initial estimate of $49.8billion had also been lowered to $20billion by the former Central Bank governor.
Like other Central Banks around the world, Nigeria's Central Bank is independent and tenure and conditions of appointment of its governor is provided for by the Constitution.
However, last week the Senate Committee on Finance, ordered an independent forensic audit into the accounts of NNPC for account for the 'missing money'.
In an interview with Aljazeera, Omar Farouk Ibrahim of the NNPC said, though Nigeria's National Petroleum Company, has a problem, there was no missing billions.
Farouk Ibrahim said all money has been accounted for and that the "good sides of NNPC far outweighs its bad sides," adding the problem is that there is over-dependence on the NNPC and as a result, all eyes are on it and any news concerning NNPC is blown out of proportion.
But the suspended Central Bank governor is not keeping quiet about his removal. He told the media after the announcement on Thursday that the law does not allow the president to remove the governor without the consent of the senate.
"The central bank is an independent institution, [and] there is a section of the act that says the president cannot remove the governor without two-thirds of the senate," Sanusi said, adding "There was a reason for that section. You cannot go round that section by saying, 'I'm not removing you, I'm suspending you,'"
Lamido Sanusi's international passport was confiscated by security agents at the Airport in Lagos saying they were "acting on orders from the villa in Abuja". Aso Rock Villa is the official residence of Nigeria's President.
Mallam Lamido Sanusi was still serving his first term as CBN governor, when he was suspended on Thursday February 20, for "financial recklessness and misconduct". The term would have lasted till June, 2014.
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Photo Credit: Yvonne Ndege.
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