President Goodluck Jonathan has authorized a forensic audit of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC), after weeks of public uproar over an alleged $20 billion in missing state revenues.
The Presidency said on Wednesday that it had authorized the engagement of reputable international firms to carry out the audit.
It, however, did not give details of the firms.
The government made this disclosure in a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, in reaction to the claim by the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Lamido Sanusi, that his decision to expose corruption in the management of oil revenue led to his travails.
It said Sanusi’s suspension had nothing to do with an attempt to cover up his allegation that funds due to the Federation Account were unaccounted for by the NNPC.
It described the various statements credited to the suspended CBN governor in the media lately as cheap blackmail and attempts to incite the public against the Federal Government.
The Presidency said it was unfortunate that instead of trying to provide reasonable response to the query on his official conduct as the governor of the central bank, Sanusi had chosen to whip up public sympathy for himself and anger against the government in recent press interviews.
The statement read, “We have noted with disappointment the unrelenting attempt by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to falsely portray his recent suspension from office as an attempt by the Presidency to bury his allegation that huge sums of money due to the Federation Account are unaccounted for by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
“The Presidency wishes to reaffirm that Sanusi’s suspension has absolutely nothing to do with his unproven and inconsistent claim that $49.8bn, $12bn or $20bn is missing from the national treasury.
“As was clearly stated in the letter suspending him from office and confirmed by President Goodluck Jonathan in his last Presidential Media Chat, Mallam Sanusi’s suspension was wholly based on the need for him to step aside, while the weighty charges of financial recklessness, gross misconduct and persistent disregard for laid down rules and regulations in the management of the central bank made against him by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and others are properly investigated.
“It is most unfortunate that instead of trying to provide some reasonable response to the clear and unambiguous query of his official conduct as governor of the central bank, Mallam Sanusi has cynically chosen to whip up public sympathy for himself and anger against the Federal Government by deliberately misleading unwary Nigerians and the international community into believing the falsehood that he is being punished for exposing corruption.
“In recent days, the suspended CBN governor has, following in the footsteps of others who have an axe to grind with the government, taken to spreading his false claims and allegations through gullible foreign media correspondents, telling them, among other things, that his threat to force commercial banks to open up their books to unravel the whereabouts of the ‘missing’ funds, whether $49.8bn, $12bn, or $20bn, ultimately led to his suspension.
“He also continues to make the mischievous claim that the government is somehow involved in a scam to divert huge sums of money from the Federation Account through the misappropriation of kerosene subsidy funds.
“Mallam Sanusi’s allegations are patently untrue. But government is making no effort to bury them as he falsely claims. Relevant committees of the National Assembly are still investigating the claims and the suspended CBN governor remains free to give evidence before them in support of his allegations.
“Furthermore, in keeping with its avowed commitment to full transparency, openness and accountability in governmental affairs, the Federal Government has authorised the engagement of reputable international firms for the recommended forensic audit of the NNPC accounts.”