The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), a civil society group, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to order an investigation into the allegation stolen N500 billion in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
An audiotape of an intercom telephone conversation between Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor; Adamu Lamatek, the deputy governor of the apex bank, and other top officials CBN, was leaked on whistle-blowing website, Sahara Reporters, last week.
The officials were heard having a conversation about how to reconcile the apex bank’s balance sheet which had a big hole.
CBN had explained that the said money was part of a N650 billion loan to states to mitigate the effect of the recent recession on Nigerians but the auditors wanted to classify it as bad loan — which would have negatively impacted on the balance sheet of the bank.
However, HEDA, in a statement issued by Olanrewaju Suraju, its chairman, said CBN’s explanation has loose ends, adding that the bank “failed to address critical issues raised in the tape conversation”.
It called on the president to “see the leaked video as a unique opportunity to purge the CBN of its bad eggs” and that “the Presidency has an eternal burden on its shoulders if the issue is swept under the carpet.”
“The worst a country can do is to ignore serious allegations of corruption against the apex bank which is expected to be a role model for best financial practices. In this case, the CBN topmost officials were caught on tape discussing a failed transaction to the tune of N500billion. The minimum Nigerians can demand is for a high-level inquiry to the whole affair. We are convinced this will open up many more cans of worms,” the statement read.
“Even if the funds loans for states, it was important to know if the loans were this non tax ways and means. It is important to know how the CBN expected the states to pay back the loans and this follows the pertinent question whether the CBN should give out loans fully aware that it will be difficult to pay back the loans except to deduct from Federal Allocations.
“It is also important to know the impact of the loans on the exchange rate of the Naira.
“The N500billion has also raised issues about how much loans have been inherited by the CBN considering others like the N5.3 Trillion AMCON bond inherited by the CBN where assets are difficult to recover. As at present, AMCON has been able to recover only very little.
“There are loose ends the CBN explanation has failed to tie. Nigerians need to know if the defence of the CBN is a make belief or truly reflects the content of the transactions recorded in the tape. Nigerians need to know the CBN officials involved in the transaction. Nigerians deserve to know how the loan of 2015 only affects the book in 2018. Nigerians wish to know if there are other similar transactions involving CBN officials in the past or at present. This is a big allegation of fraud that must be uncovered. It represents one of the biggest litmus tests for President Mohammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption in the new tenure.”