Reports in a section of the Nigeria media alleging missing fund and fraud in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have been refuted by the management of the apex bank.
In a swift reaction to the allegations last night, the CBN assured Nigerians that the integrity of its governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, remains intact. The apex bank said that the audio recordings which were pushed to Nigerians by the authors were distorted to misinform the citizens.
According to the CBN, the audio recordings of conversations amongst the governor, deputy governor, and some senior officials published by an online media were selective and had no relation to fraud or missing funds in the apex bank as described in the report.
It said that the authors in their desperate move to paint a non-existing issue as real deliberately omitted the beginning of the conversation and ended their mischief with a headline-grabbing narrative.
The CBN, therefore, threatened to seek legal redress against the people behind the misleading report, stressing that Emefiele like he did in his first term, which ends next month, would never compromise his position on transparently running the affairs of the bank and ultimately the Nigerian economy.
There are speculations that the audio recording, which came a few days after President Muhammadu Buhari sent Emefiele’s name to Senate for confirmation for another term of five years was designed to drag his name in the mud and possibly stop his clearance by the Upper House.
The CBN statement read: “The management of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been notified of a purported audio recording of selective conversations amongst the governor, deputy governor and some senior officials. Contrary to the headline-grabbing narrative that the discussion was about a fraudulent transaction, this conversation – the beginning of which was omitted to create a different impression – was simply to proffer solutions to a misunderstanding that affected the bank’s balance sheet.
“As publicly known, the CBN was approached in 2015 by the National Economic Management Team and the National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by the vice president, to assist state governments with Conditional Budget Support, in the aftermath of the significant nose-dive in global oil prices and associated Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocations. In order to ensure that ordinary Nigerian workers got their salaries, pensions and gratuities, and that the economy continued to recover from recession, the bank provided about N650 billion in loans at nine per cent with a two-year grace period to 35 states of the federation. These monies were distributed to the states monthly with documented approval of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Presidency.
“In closing the bank’s 2018 accounts, external auditors in their draft account, erroneously classified about N150 billion of these loans as bad, which negatively affected the Bank’s Balance Sheet and shareholders fund. The selective conversation being circulated was simply a discussion to ascertain why the auditors took that position and next steps to resolving it.
“Obviously, it soon became clear that a state government loan cannot be classified as ‘bad’ or ‘irrecoverable’ when the state still exists and getting Federation Allocation Account Committee (FAAC) allocations. The bank then reached out to the Federal Ministry of Finance and they jointly gave comfort to the auditors who accepted in writing that these monies would be repaid.
“On this basis, the auditors reversed the negative entry and then certified that the CBN’s 2018 accounts were a true reflection of the state of affairs. Reconciliation of balance sheet items is regular conversations amongst senior management of many agencies and should not be misconstrued as anything but that. Had the online media which released the selective recordings sought the comments of CBN as required of journalism practice, we would have provided it.
“Clearly, those who listened to the audio can easily ascertain that the conversation had nothing to do with anything fraudulent as purported. The bank, therefore, urges all well-meaning Nigerians to disregard this audio and continue to trust that the bank is doing everything it can to represent their interests in the best possible way.
“Under the leadership of Governor Emefiele, the CBN has always stood for, and vigorously pursued transparency in its stewardship of public resources and policies. No monies are stolen or missing.
“The integrity of the CBN governor remains unassailable. He has no account in Dubai or anywhere in the world and would never convert the funds of CBN for personal use. Not in the past, not now and not ever. The use of selective wiretapped conversations of the bank’s management, to malign his character and integrity will never stand. The bank will pursue every legal means to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the CBN said.
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