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#DasukiGate: CBN Officials Absolve Self From Scandal Complicity


By Niyi Adeyi

Following allegations of complicity by members of the public, against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), over misappropriation of arms money and recovered Late Head of State, Gen. Sanni Abacha’s loot, staffs of the apex Bank have stoutly absolved the establishment of blame in the gross misconduct.

Some top officials of the Bank in an investigation argued that some did not understand CBN operational system. The officials who craved anonymity indicated that the relationship that exists between it and Government is like an individual who operates a current account and the commercial bank where such account is domiciled.

The CBN staffers explained that when a payment mandate (being instrument to withdraw money) was issued by a client – government agency or department that operates an account with the apex bank, it studies such mandate to ensure that the signature tallies with that of the signatory before any dime from such agency’s money can be moved.

“Once this is ascertained, the bank will also check to see that if there is enough money in the account before paying; not minding whether the person wants it in cash or electronic transfer. However, if the person wants it, the apex bank has no option than to pay,” said an official, who added “the bank is not an auditor, neither is it an anti-corruption police to pry into what the money is meant for or whether the money will be judiciously utilized.”

Another top official in his response analyzed “If, for instance, you take a cheque to the bank and you present the cheque to the teller, the teller takes the cheque, looks at it, looks into the account, looks at the signature to verify that it is the same one on file, having also examined your ID, they pay you. Before they pay you, they are not going to ask what the money is meant for; neither will they ask you to bring documentation to prove that you have done the contract for which the money is meant.

“Just like individuals have current accounts with commercial banks that is how these agencies have accounts with the CBN. Just like these current account holders write cheques that is how the agencies write mandates requesting CBN to pay out certain sums. When such mandates get to the CBN, it looks at it, examines it to see that the authorizing officer is the one that approved the mandate and once these things have been certified, we (CBN) will have to pay from that agency’s account.”

The defence is prompted by the view expressed by Nigerians, which posited that the CBN is also culpable in many public funds meant for procurement of arms to boost the military’s offensive against Boko Haram insurgents paid to the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. (rtd) Sambo Dasuki, which he later disbursed to many of the former President Goodluck Jonathan associates and party members, to execute party’s programmes.

Among the personalities who have publicly indicted the CBN is the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. He hit last week that “If there was still any honour left among thieves, there is no way the leaders of a party (PDP) under whose watch the nation’s economy suffered a monumental mismanagement and the Central Bank was turned to the ATM or piggy bank of a few people will have the temerity to insult a government that is working hard to turn things around or the citizens who are bearing the brunt of such mismanagement.”

Responding to the accusation, the CBN staff argued that the apex Bank was wrongly vilified because most people do not understand the relationship it has with clients such as: NIMASA, NNPC, DSS, ONSA, the Senate, including the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.

A senior executive of the Bank explained that all agencies that operate an account with the CBN were managed by the Banking and Payment Department of the CBN, adding that the agencies’ accounts were funded, if there’s no money in their account, and will “have to bounce such mandates”.

“I must emphasize that the CBN is not honouring such mandates from its own resources; it is only doing so from those agencies funds it is holding for them in their own account. There is a lot of ignorance out there. The money the CBN paid out (in Dasuki’s case) is not CBN’s money”, the senior staff declared.

On the misappropriation of the recovered Abacha’s loot, the CBN official explained that “the money was in the account that belongs to the FG. The only signatory to that account is that Accountant-General of the Federation. The former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala wrote a memo asking the President to approve that the money be moved from the Federal Government account to the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser.”

The executive in exonerating the apex Bank, clarified “After former President Jonathan approved it, the person that gave the mandate for the money to be moved was the AGF. He sent a mandate to the CBN. It was based on that mandate that the CBN moved the $300m and the 5.5m Pounds (Abacha’s loot) from the account of the Federal Government, money was, to the NSA”. The official specified that the CBN “simply paid based on an authorized mandate”.

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