Danger is currently looming at the Central Bank of Nigeria as the former Acting Governor, Folashodun Shonubi, has refused to quit his office inspite of President Bola Tinubu’s appointment of a substantive governor to replace him.
Similarly, his former deputies returned to their offices on Monday to also retrieve and destroy documents as well as remove laptops.
Shonubi and his deputies, CBN sources alleged, “looted their offices” on Monday.
This is just as some business moguls and top government officials have perfected plans to prevail on President Tinubu to stop the ongoing probe of the CBN and GBEs by the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee.
Already, a team has been dispatched by this group of Nigerians to go ahead of President Tinubu to New York, where he’s currently attending a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), to hold a meeting with him on the need to discontinue the ongoing probe of the apex bank by Obazee.
President Tinubu had last Friday, through his spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, announced Dr Yemi Cardoso as the new CBN governor as well as four others as his deputy, pending their confirmation by the National Assembly.
The four nominated as deputy governors are Mrs Emem Nnana Usoro, Mr Muhammad Sani Abdullahi Dattijo, Mr Philip Ikeazor and Dr Bala M Bello.
Their appointments effectively ended the tenure of the apex bank’s acting governor and his deputies.
The President, it was learnt, didn’t consult his Special Investigator currently probing the CBN for his inputs before appointing Cardoso and his deputies as the new managers of the apex bank.
Competent sources at CBN said they were observed to have arrived at their former offices and immediately embarked on retrieving some vital documents while destroying several others.
Shonubi, who was last week allegedly diagnosed with the deadly COVID-19 and was said to have been in isolation when invited for questioning by the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee, was last week sacked by President Tinubu, who replaced him and his deputies with Cardoso and four new deputy governors.
But as of the time of writing this report, despite his being relieved of his position as the apex bank’s acting governor along with his deputies, they were all said to still be in their offices at the CBN unaccompanied by any member of the Special Investigator’s team, ransacking the offices and destroying documents apparently “to cover up their tracks.”
A staff of apex bank, who pleaded anonymity, told our correspondent on Monday morning, “Shonubi has claimed to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is supposed to still be in isolation for some time. He’s not supposed to be moving freely about in order not to infect others.
“Aside from that, the fact that he and his deputies have been sacked by the President and replaced by other persons precludes them from showing up in their offices at the CBN headquarters. But they’re all right there inside their offices now, all alone, retrieving documents and destroying others for reasons best known to them. But since we’re all aware he (Shonubi) is supposed to be in isolation for COVID-19 infection, nobody here dare goes near him for the fear of being infected by him. So, he’s just in there now doing all he likes.
“I think the security agencies should be aware of this and take urgent necessary actions to prevent any untoward occurrence here at the CBN now and in the nearest future. The CBN is now in serious danger!”
Meanwhile, President Tinubu’s appointment of Cardoso and the four new deputy governors of the CBN may have run into a hitch as tempers are now flaring in the nation’s financial sector over the new development at the apex bank.
Already, it was learnt, the managements of the nation’s commercial banks and even staff of the CBN are spoiling for a showdown with the Federal Government over the new appointments at the apex bank.
First News gathered on Monday from credible sources that the Managing Directors and Chief Executive Officers as well as major stakeholders in the commercial bank sectors are up against the appointment of Cardoso and his four deputies as the new managers of the CBN and the nation’s financial sector.
The commercial banks MDs and other major stakeholders are said to be kicking against the appointment of Cardoso and his deputies, which they have described as mere handing over of the CBN and the nation’s financial sector and economy to a new set of “incompetent and incapable hands” by President Tinubu.
Cardoso and his four deputies are alleged not to have the requisite professional experience, qualification and capacity required for their appointments as CBN managers.
According to them, President Tinubu has, like his predecessors, succeeded in politicising the CBN by appointing political godsons and handpicked highly politically exposed persons, who are total strangers to the running of the apex bank, instead of selecting the new managers of the bank from its present crop of directors, who are “experienced, competent, familiar with the system and possess all it takes to successfully run the apex bank.”
Their appointments, the commercial banks chiefs also argued, contravened the CBN Act, stressing that President Tinubu had been misled to act concerning the new appointees without taking into consideration Sections 8 and 11(2) on tenure of such appointees.
All the appointees are also said to be politically connected and exposed. For instance, while Bala Bello was a governorship candidate in the 2023 general elections, Emem, who was GM Marketing at UBA was catapulted on the day of her nomination by President Tinubu to the higher office of an Executive Director.
They therefore enjoined the President to immediately invalidate the appointments of Cardoso and his deputies, and also do the needful in order to save Nigeria from impending catastrophe and economic calamity.
First News gathered that President Tinubu himself; Senate President Godswill Akpabio; billionaire businessman, Tony Elumelu and the immediate past governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, selected the new CBN governor and deputy governors.
The commercial banks MDs and major stakeholders, it was learnt, see this development as a danger signal for the nation’s already ailing economy, hence their resolve to oppose the appointments of Cardoso and his four deputies.
Efforts made by our correspondent to speak with the commercial banks MDs proved abortive as they preferred “to keep sealed lips on the development for now.”
Meanwhile, some commercial bank and CBN officials, who pleaded anonymity, also advised President Tinubu to cancel the appointments of Cardoso and the four deputies, as they have vowed not to cooperate with them as the new managers of the apex bank.
According to one highly placed bank executive, “Past experiences have proved that appointing CBN governors from outside the apex bank has always ended up in disasters for the bank and the nation’s economy.
“The fact that they are picked from commercial banks has not helped the matters. They’ve always ended up messing up the economy. The government always forgets that running the commercial banks is not the same thing as managing the CBN, which is not about profit-making like the commercial banks. Moreso, you can’t bring in your political acolytes and associates to run such a very sensitive and important institution like the CBN. Politics has always been the bane of our CBN managers in the recent past. Remember. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, how he ended up being sacked. The same thing has now repeated itself and even in a worse form with Godwin Emefiele and his deputies. The nation’s economy can’t afford this unkind treatment always from our politicians.
“So, bringing people with commercial bank backgrounds and even political associates as CBN governor and deputy governors is total misfit. They can never function effectively like those who have grown within the CBN system over the years and are familiar with the entire system.”
The commercial banks MDs and other major stakeholders, he said, are therefore calling on the National Assembly to reject Tinubu’s nomination of Cardoso and the four deputy governors by insisting on the appointment of experienced and competent hands from within the CBN itself.
He said, “This time round, the National Assembly, in the interest of the entire nation, should put their feet down by rejecting Tinubu’s nomination of Cardoso and four deputies. They’re all politicians and not core professionals.
“Handing over the affairs of the CBN and the nation’s economy to these politicians would eventually spell doom for the nation’s already ailing economy. The lawmakers should rather advise President Tinubu to do due diligence in the appointment of the new CBN governor and deputy governors. That’s the only way the National Assembly can save the country’s economy from an impending total collapse.”
However, First News investigations have revealed renewed efforts by some business moguls and top Federal Government officials to frustrate the ongoing probe of the CBN by the Special Investigator, Obazee and his team.
Aside from their latest plans to travel to New York with the sole purpose of meeting Tinubu to convince him on why Obazee’s team should be stopped from further investigations of the CBN and the GBEs, this group with the active connivance of their associates in the Presidency, has been blocking Obazee from meeting the President to submit his preliminary reports on the probe.
There have also been alleged threats to Obazee’s life and those of his team members. His team has also been denied the necessary funding despite directives by President Tinubu to the CBN and other agencies to pick all the bills incurred by the Investigator’s team. But inspite of all these, the Special Investigator and his men have continued with their assignments undeterred and as given to them by the President.
All efforts by our correspondent to speak with the Special Investigator and members of his team, however, proved abortive.
A source said Obazee and his team don’t answer phone calls from anyone they don’t know or have their contacts. They also did not reply text messages sent to them by our correspondent.
But President of an anti-corruption group, Coalition for Transparency and Economic Reforms (COTER), Dr Peter Chima Chukwu, said, “Nigerians are waiting for the reasons to stop Obazee’s special investigations team set up by the President himself. The man and his team have been working without being given one Kobo by anyone. They have all been spending their own personal money to do the job assigned to them by President Tinubu.
“We’ll just like the President to know that Nigerians are waiting for the report of the Special Investigator and his team on CBN and the GBEs. So, the probe can’t be stopped at this stage. He shouldn’t listen to those scheming to frustrate the efforts of the Special Investigator.”