Recalcitrant Debtors induces Reps to Convene Extortionist Shakedown “Probe”

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In a move that had the unmistakable finger prints of recalcitrant debtors, particularly, thieving ex-governors James Ibori and Lucky Igbinedion, the House of Representatives is expressing "fake outrage" against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, saying his recent N400 million capital injections and loans to bail-out the five banks, whose CEOs he sacked, was unconstitutional and violated due process.

Sanusi is coming under increasing attack from hawks and recalcitrant debtors and their acolytes who have tried unsuccessfully to arm-twist President Umaru Musa Yar'adua to halt the CBN and EFCC's embarrassing public naming and shaming campaign. has learnt that after a delegation to intercede on behalf of the recalcitrant bank debtors was snubbed by Yar'adua in Saudi Arabia, hardliners within the business and political establishment including political godfather, James Ibori and Lucky Igbinedion whose bank was taken over, have vowed to stop at nothing in their quest to get Sanusi's head.

Sources told that having failed to convince the President, the recalcitrant bank debtors are seeking help from their friends in the Judiciary and Legislature, whose election campaigns were financed with some of the bad loans. The EFCC Chair Farida Waziri revealed that the EFCC has credible information that some of the bad debtors have been holding secret meetings and strategizing on how to escape arrest and prosecution and "some are said to be heading to the courts to seek protection from arrest and prosecution.

While it is the right of every Nigerian to seek legal redress against perceived wrong, we will crave the indulgence of the respected members of the Nigerian bench not to consider any frivolous interlocutory applications from the bank's debtors," She pointed out.

But the lawyers disagree. In the light of the on-going developments with the sweeping offensive to bring alleged bank loan defaulters to book by the EFCC, the detained bank chiefs' lawyers were at the Federal High Court, Lagos, Wednesday in anticipation of their clients' arraignment as promised by the EFCC, but left disappointed as the EFCC failed to bring them.

Dr. Nnamdi Dimgba lawyer for the former managing directors of Afribank, Sebastian Adigwe and Finbank Okey Nwosu, said he had obtained court order against the EFCC to release his clients on bail after holding them for eight days, but the commission is yet to comply with the order or bring the suspects to court. "All agencies and individuals involved in the task of sanitizing the Banking System should endeavor to approach their duties professionally and in strict adherence to the extant laws of the land, due process and best practice,” the president of the Nigerian Bar Association had charged the EFCC.

The white-hot controversy over the bail-out came as some top CBN officials, opposed to the sack of the five bank CEOs, provided evidence that contrary to claims by the CBN Governor, no special examination of the five banks - Union Bank, Intercontinental, Oceanic, Afribank and Finbank - was conducted either by the CBN or NDIC.

In an appearance before the Usman Adamu -led Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, Ganiyu Ogunleye corroborated earlier accounts that CBN never conducted any special exams on the banks as required by law. With documentary evidence, the NDIC boss told Nigerian lawmakers that what was done in the banks between February and July 2009 was an “Ad-Hoc assignment.”

Said Ogunleye: “A special examination can only be conducted on a bank if there is a petition from within the bank to CBN, stating that there is a grave situation in the bank or that after CBN/NDIC examination, the report points to a deteriorating financial situation in the bank. In that case, the CBN will write formally to the bank board, intimating it of its intention to do a special examination, detailing the areas and material facts to be provided. The examiners will move in to carry out the assignment. All of these were not carried out this time around, Ogunleye was quoted as saying.”

More signs that the Sanusi reforms might be heading for a major snag emerged after some members of the House of Representatives raised query on CBN's source of the N400 billion injected into the five banks. "The CBN seems committed to agency discretion, as its actions may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency or even the people's representatives," a House rep regretted to The lawmakers are insisting that because the public became an involuntary investor in the five banks, Sanusi would be made to explain the source of the fund when the House reconvenes, as the Nigerian tax payers needed to know where the money came from.

Hon. Ayo Adeseun Chairman of Appropriations Committee, said, since they were on recess when the decision was taken, in line with due process, the CBN governor ought not to have dolled the funds to the five banks including Oceanic Bank, Intercontinental Bank, Fin Bank, Afribank, and Union Bank without a recourse to the National Assembly, adding that the CBN would be called to order and made to explain where the bail money came from.

Similarly, Hon Igo Agumah, House Committee Chairman on Gas, representing Port Harcourt I Federal Constituency, Rivers State, also condemned the action of the CBN on bail-out: “I'll like to assure that this government is not running without a legislature. I think that the legislature is part of what makes this government a democracy and on the bail-out money, I think that this House is going to insist that the CBN governor discloses where he got the money to give to the five banks… all these things had taken place while the House of Reps is on recess. And on the very first day at work, we'll require the CBN to actually disclose the source of the money, where he got it from in order to do what they have done," he said.

With the House Speaker, Hon. Dimeji Bankole and chairmen of various House committees: Hon. Esseme Eyiboh, (Media and Public Affairs); Hon. Ayo Adeseun (Appropriation), Hon. Bassey Otu (Petroleum), Hon. Sada Soli (Inter Parliamentary relations) and Hon John Eno (Finance) all expressing similar sentiments on the bail-out, it appears there are tougher days ahead for President Yar'adua and the CBN Governor

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