“Preliminary investigations, it was gathered, indicated that the CBN management did not only lie to ex-President Buhari on the status the account. It was gathered that the account was being manipulated, tampered with at will while the funds left are being surreptitiously moved to two other accounts without the knowledge of past government.”
PEGASUS REPORTERS, LAGOS | SEPTEMBER 16, 2023
Nigerians will soon jump for joy as the committee probing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other Government Business Entities (GBEs) headed by the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee, has traced about N8trillion of the funds looted from the vaults of the apex bank and the GBEs to various bank accounts operated by individuals and private business organisations.
The recovery of the located N8trillion is, however, expected to commence any moment from now.
This and other revelations, according to reliable sources, are contained in a preliminary report already prepared by the Special Investigator and his team.
But Obazee, it was learnt, is waiting for President Bola Tinubu to return from his foreign trips before submitting the report and then obtain the presidential approval to deposit the funds to be recovered into the Federation’s consolidated account or the recovery account, as he’s expected to get the President’s approval to open the account for depositing the money.
Tinubu is, however, expected to officially announce the N8trillion as the first recovery made by the Obazee-led team of investigators, while subsequent recoveries will be announced fortnightly or monthly.
About N400trillion looted from the CBN and GBEs is expected to be recovered by the Obazee-led team of investigators.
Meanwhile, our correspondent gathered that the special investigator has begun to take steps to prevent a recurrence of the situation where the management of the apex bank presents fake or doctored financial audit reports to government in their bid to cover up such “monumental fraud” allegedly perpetrated under Emefiele’s watch.
Obazee, it was learnt, has therefore, recommended in his preliminary report to be submitted to Tinubu, the immediate withdrawal of the seven-year CBN audited annual financial reports released in September, following the discovery of some discrepancies and irregularities in the financial accounts.
CBN had in August released its financial reports for years 2016 to 2022 amid the ongoing probe of the apex bank by Tinubu’s Special Investigator. But the audit reports are said to have been found out by the Special Investigator to contain inaccurate and false data.
HOW ACTING CBN GOV MASTERMINDED CONTROVERSIAL NAIRA REDESIGN POLICY
However, contrary to Nigerians’ belief that the suspended CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, formulated the Naira redesign policy, it has been discovered that his deputy in charge of operations, who is now the Acting Governor of the apex bank, Folashodun Shonubi, was the real mastermind of the policy.
Shonubi, it was learnt, came up with the idea of the Naira change in conjunction with Emefiele and the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdullahi Bawa as collaborators in his agenda to assist a particular opposition presidential candidate (names withheld), who he was working for, to win the 2023 general elections.
Impeccable sources added that the controversial currency redesign, which resulted in the scarcity of Naira, was the sole idea and handiwork of Shonubi, who was CBN Deputy Governor (Operations).
SHONUBI’S INTERNAL MEMO ON NAIRA REDESIGN
This claim was corroborated by an August 2022 internal memo Shonubi raised regarding the matter.
Shonubi in the memo titled, “Memo to the Committee of Governor for Currency Redesign,” based his reason for a redesign of the Naira on “wholesale hoarding of Naira bank notes by members of the public worsening shortage of fit banknotes in circulation, high and increasing cost borne by the bank as well as high counterfeit risk.”
Shonubi’s memo, it was learnt, prompted Emefiele to set up a taskforce for the Naira redesign with himself as the chairman while Shonubi and Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, Aisha Ahmad, served as co-chairmen.
NAIRA SCARCITY TARGETED AT TINUBU, APC
The currency redesign was then implemented within just a few weeks to the 2023 general elections, resulting in severe disruption of economic activities and scarcity of banknotes throughout the country.
While Shonubi was starving the rest of the country of cash, he and his boss, Emefiele, were diverting banknotes to the opposition through some designated bank branches. The CBN topshots, it was learnt, were all out specifically against the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu and the ruling party.
Recall that Nigerians went through hell during the Naira scarcity period with many losing their livelihoods and even their lives while the country’s economy was almost totally grounded due to the non-availability of cash to enable citizens to make transactions.
CONTINUED STARVING OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR’S OFFICE OF FUNDS, NECESSARY DOCUMENTS IN DEFIANCE OF PRESIDENT’S DIRECTIVE
Shonubi and the other government agencies, it was gathered, under the instruction of the powerful Presidency cabal have also continued to starve the Obazee Special Investigation team of funds. They have continued to defy President Tinubu’s directive to them to release funds to facilitate the operations of the office of the Special Investigator, since his team began the probe of the CBN and the GBEs.
A CBN staff, who pleaded anonymity, also said the apex bank employees have been instructed by “ogas at the top” not to release any working tool such as laptops to the Obazee-led team.
But impeccable sources said the Obazee-led team’s resolve to successfully complete it’s assignment has made the investigators to continue to work inspite of lack funds and with the hard copies of voluminous documents made available to them. These have largely slowed down their work.
Obazee, however, seems not to be bothered by this development, as he has continued to carry out his assignment without minding whose ox is gored.
Members of the Presidency cabal, it was further learnt, having failed to stop the take-off of the committee and the subsequent commencement of investigations, are now fighting tooth and nail to seize control of the account where the recovered monies will be deposited. It was gathered that they are insisting the recovered looted funds be kept with one of the Agencies or the Treasury Single Account being operated by the CBN management.
It was also gathered that up till now, nobody else aside from Emefiele, Shonubi and other CBN deputy governors, knows how much goes in or out of the account.
Preliminary investigations, it was gathered, indicated that the CBN management did not only lie to ex-President Buhari on the status the account. It was gathered that the account was being manipulated, tampered with at will while the funds left are being surreptitiously moved to two other accounts without the knowledge of past government.
But it was learnt that to forestall further tampering with the account, the special investigator is now insisting in his recommendations that a new consolidated recovery account that cannot be withdrawn from by any individual, be opened.
This, it was gathered, was one of the reasons the Presidency cabal has been taking very desperate steps to ensure that the special investigator does not submit his preliminary report to President Tinubu.
HOW DSS ARRESTED ACTING CBN GOV TO FACILITATE SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR’S GRILLING
However, as part of the ongoing probe of the CBN, Shonubi was arrested last Thursday by the DSS to enable the Special Investigator to interrogate him. The acting CBN governor, who spent a night in custody, was however released the next day, Friday.
CONFRONTATION DRAMA IN EMEFIELE’S OFFICE AT CBN HEADQUARTERS
But during last Thursday’s grilling of Shonubi, the special investigator discovered it was important for him to make the apex bank’s chiefs to confront themselves in order to clarify certain issues. At about 7pm, the special investigator requested the DSS to assist him to take Emefiele to his office at the CBN headquarters. Upon arrival at Emefiele’s office at the CBN, the special investigator then summoned all the CBN deputy governors, including the acting Governor, Shonubi to face one another over issues they needed to thrash out. It was there and then they discovered that Shonubi was actually the architect of the Naira redesign policy because at that stage, Emefiele told them the acting apex bank boss initiated the idea of Naira scarcity, insisting that he only signed the papers.
It was also learnt that when the Special investigator demanded the approval documents for the Ways and Means submitted to the National Assembly, which was actually N23 trillion, Emefiele and his deputies couldn’t provide back-up documents beyond N7trillion. It was, however, eventually discovered that Emefiele gave his approval for the remaining N18trillion and also approved the printing of the money, which he couldn’t account for.
The drama of the confrontation meeting organised by the special investigating team between Emefiele and his deputy governors lasted till 12:30am, it was learnt.
EMEFIELE NOT BUHARI APPROVED NAIRA REDESIGN POLICY
Again, it was during the meeting that it discovered that contrary to what Nigerians have been made to believe, Buhari did not officially approve change of Naira. Emefiele himself, it was gathered, signed the approval paper that should have been endorsed by the President for the implementation of such a policy. Emefiele, it was learnt, put his signature where the President was supposed to sign. It was however further learnt that Shonubi put the papers together while Emefiele signed it.
Both principal officers of the apex bank, therefore, connived on the signing of the approval for the printing and minting of the Naira.
Following this revelations, the Special Investigator was said to have then summoned the Managing Director of printing and minting company to his office located in the DSS headquarters, Abuja, where he was questioned about who usually ordered the printing of money. He told the investigator that the President usually does that, adding that when he saw the documents with Emefiele’s signature, he raised an eyebrow but because of the fear and belief that Emefiele was close to President Buhari, he couldn’t carry his protest further and accepted the documents.
The printing and minting company’s MD corroborated this discovery in his written confessional statement after he was interrogated.
The copy of the letter of authority to print money which Emefiele and Shonubi submitted during their questioning by the Special Investigator tallied with the copy earlier tendered by the printing and minting company MD.
But when Emefiele was asked why he signed the letter of authority for the printing of the Naira, the approval of which can be given by only the President, he claimed to have obtained the authority to sign the documents.
PRESIDENCY CABAL MOVES TO SECURE TENURE EXTENSION FOR ACTING CBN GOV
Meanwhile, a lobby for the reapportionment of Shonubi as the acting CBN Governor has begun by the cabal operating in the Presidency, it was learnt.
Shonubi’s tenure is ending on October 15, but the Presidency cabal want his tenure renewed by Tinubu, unknown to them that he’s actually working for the opposition, so that they will continue to reap benefits and ensure he doesn’t cooperate with the Special Investigator.
The cabal is therefore working tirelessly to ensure that the Special Investigator does not submit to the President his preliminary report, which heavily indicted Shonubi as not to have only collaborated with Emefiele, but also indicates he actually worked against Tinubu while supporting the opposition candidate during the 2023 presidential election.
To secure tenure extension for Shonubi, the Presidency cabal, it was learnt, even included his name on the list of the President’s delegation to India. But two days to the departure, it was gathered, Tinubu demanded to see the list and when he saw the acting CBN governor’s name, he summoned Gbajabiamila and his Principal Staff Officer (PSO) to ask them why. But both Gbajabiamila and the PSO were said to have denied knowing how Shonubi’s name got on the delegation’s list. Among those queried for inserting Shonubi’s name on the list for the India trip was the President’s Chief Security Office (CSO). Tinubu himself was, however, said to have used his biro to cancel Shonubi’s name and wrote “not approved” in front of it.
The acting CBN gov was, therefore, dropped from the India trip.
However, in a couple of weeks’ time, President Tinubu will be going to the US and the plan of the cabal is to smuggle in Shonubi’s name on the delegation. Their plan is to use that trip as an opportunity for Shonubi to see Tinubu and convince him to grant him an extended tenure as the CBN gov.
Shonubi, it was learnt, has already written his letter of request for an extension of tenure, which he’s hoping to submit to Tinubu during the US trip. They were said to have assured him that they will facilitate his meeting with the President during the US trip and once he gets his approval to continue as the CBN governor, he should just return to Nigeria.
PRESIDENCY CABAL, ACTING CBN GOV’S PLAN TO BLACKMAIL SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR
The cabal, it was further learnt, has also instructed Shonubi to embark on blackmailing of the Special Investigator once he secures the extension of his tenure as the apex bank’s boss.
The Presidency cabal, prominent Nigerians, business moguls and some top aides of the President, it was learnt, want to use Shokunbi to protect themselves because they have failed to bribe Obazee to overlook them in his investigations. Obazee, it was learnt, has blocked all avenues through which they could get to him.
FENCING OFF SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR FROM MEETING TINUBU TO SUBMIT PRELIMINARY REPORT
The plan of the cabal it was learnt is to prevent the Special Investigator from meeting and briefing the President, and submitting his preliminary report, which it was gathered largely indicted Shonubi, before the President’s US trip to avoid a situation where Tinubu would order his arrest.
The Presidency cabal and business moguls, it was gathered, also plan to have a firm grip on the apex bank through extension of Shonubi’s tenure in order to guarantee continued easy access cash from the CBN and also effectively cover their tracks.
They also plan, it was learnt, to get President Tinubu to eventually appoint Shonubi as the substantive CBN governor.
ACTING CBN GOV’S CLAIM OF CONTRACTING COVID-19
Meanwhile, it was reliably gathered on Monday that the acting CBN Governor has contracted the deadly COVID-19 and is expected to be in isolation for the next 16 days, in the first instance.
Shonubi’s current health status will automatically keep him away from getting close to the Presidential Villa and meeting the President, for some time.
But it was learnt that his claim of contracting COVID-19 may be a ploy by the acting CBN governor to be excused from further interrogation by the Special Investigator.
COALITION DEMANDS ACTING CBN GOV’S SUSPENSION
Meanwhile, a coalition of 259 anti-corruption, civil society and human rights groups, Coalition for Transparency and Economic Reforms (COTER) has urged President Tinubu to act on the preliminary report to be submitted to him by the special investigator.
COTER also advised Tinubu to immediately suspend the acting CBN governor following his indictment in the ongoing probe of the apex bank by the Special Investigator and his team.
It added that there should be immediate recovery of all the stolen monies, confiscation of assets acquired with ill-gotten wealth and commencement of the prosecution of all those involved.
COTER’S President, Dr Peter Chima Chukwu and General Secretary, Mallam Auta Ibrahim Koko, noted that government should also endeavour to make public the monies recovered by the Special Investigator and his team.
The group further warned the cabal and all others antagonising the Special Investigator and his committee to steer clear of the team’s investigation and recovery efforts or risk the wrath of the people, expressing its preparedness to “galvanise and mobilise” Nigerians against them.
COTER said, “We urge President Tinubu to ensure that his administration implements the preliminary report to be submitted by the Special Investigator. Infact, all those indicted must be appropriately sanctioned.
“The indictment of the acting CBN Governor, Shonubi and his former boss, Emefiele over the rot at the apex bank, as we understand, is appalling. So, we call on the President not to spare any one of them. Infact, we’re calling on President Tinubu to immediately suspend the acting CBN Governor, too, from office to give room for a thorough probe of the alleged heist at the CBN.
“Your Excellency, Nigeria is greater and bigger than any individual, no matter how highly placed they may be. We believe, for the good of his administration and the sake of posterity, Mr President will not spare anyone as a sacred cow.
“We commend your efforts, Mr President, to recover all looted funds from the perpetrators. But we demand that all indicted individuals must be appropriately punished in order to deter others from towing such ignoble path in the future. The indicted individuals must also be made to return the looted funds to the coffers of government.”
The group also urged the government to inform Nigerians about what such recovered funds will be expended on for the benefit of the entire country, saying the entire is watching as events regarding the ongoing CBN probe unfold.
COTER also noted that the greatest achievement of the Tinubu government is the appointment of Obazee as his Special Investigator and the approval of the investigation team.
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