Nigeria: How Jonathan Ordered Me to Spend CBN Billions On Helicopters, FEC Chamber – Sanusi

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Nigeria's suspended Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido, accused by President Goodluck Jonathan of wasting public funds on unapproved projects, has provided details of how the president himself personally authorized some of those spending, one of them a multibillion naira purchase of helicopters for the police, and another, a N2.1 billion renovation of the cabinet meeting room in the presidential villa.

Mr. Sanusi said the police project, which also involved buying other security equipment, cost N19.7 billion, and that it was carried out "upon the instruction" of President Jonathan.

The president, he said, also requested that the CBN pay N3.2 billion for the construction of a new counter terrorism centre for the office of the National Security Adviser, alongside other projects.

"Consistent with our policy of development, upon the instruction of His Excellency, the President, the CBN intervened by paying N19.7 Billion to the Ministry of Police Affairs for the purchase of armoured helicopters and other security equipment," he said.

"Also, upon the application of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the CBN paid N2.1 Billion for the automation and renovation of the Federal Executive Council Chamber."

Details of the spending on "intervention projects" are contained in a lengthy statement released by the CBN governor early Sunday.

Mr. Sanusi said he was responding to the government's allegation of financial recklessness against him, a charge Mr. Jonathan said was the basis for his suspension.

The president claimed his decision to suspend the governor followed the recommendation of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, which he said investigated and found Mr. Sanusi as having misspent billions of naira.

But many Nigerians rejected that explanation and accused the president of removing Mr. Sanusi for revealing how state oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, diverted over $20 billion oil revenue.

Critics have challenged the government to prosecute Mr. Sanusi if its claims are true, and take a similar action against officials of the NNPC, and the petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who are at the centre of the missing $20 billion.

"Irrespective of the tepid and unconvincing denial by the presidency, it is clear that the main reason the presidency moved against Sanusi is because he blew the lid on the 20 billion dollars funds which the NNPC allegedly failed to remit to the Federation Account," opposition party, All Progressives Congress, APC, said in February after Mr. Sanusi's suspension", the All Progressives Congress, APC, said February after Mr. Sanusi's removal.

In his statement Sunday, Mr. Sanusi said a number of expenditure the CBN considered as interventions, but for which he was now being disparaged by the presidency, were either instigated by President Jonathan, or approved by him.

"The CBN also initiated, with His Excellency, the President's approval, the construction of the International Conference Centre for Nigeria," Mr. Sanusi said.

"His Excellency, the President, also requested that the CBN pay N3.2 Billion for the construction of a new counter terrorism centre for the office of the National Security Adviser."

In the wake of the allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement against the NNPC, government critics accused Mr. Jonathan of deploying revenue-generating agencies of government as his Automated Teller Machine, ATM, for the funding of illicit projects often not covered in federal budgets.

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