Who Stole #8358;38.23billion at Nigeria's Central Bank?
By Seyi Olu Awofeso
To avoid passing on a key issue of the audit-proved theft of ₦38.23
billion at the Central Bank of Nigeria – uncovered by the Financial
Reporting Council (F.R.C) – longish editorials were gaily written by broad
sheet journalists in Nigeria as off-ramp.
The writers, for the most part, obliquely avoided this theft issue by
conflating it with a totally un-related matter of suspected but yet
un-investigated and un-proved scam at the national oil company (NNPC). But
when stripped of its pretentious fighting words – signifying nothing –
those editorials are but devious escape routes journalists fled through in
The actual facts, as follows, however remain cast in stone. The F.R.C had
firstly confronted the Governor of Central Bank at the time (Sanusi Lamido
Sanusi) on this ₦38.23 billion missing in CBN accounts. Sanusi
Lamido reflexively chose to weasel out of it in writing to the auditors.
Sanusi Lamido admitted a shortfall of ₦38.23 billion but said he
gave the money to MINT; a subsidiary company owned substantially by the
Central Bank of Nigeria – but having two other minority shareholders, one
based in France. The F.R.C audit surveyors smelled rat and followed the
scent. They took the initiative and checked on Sanusi Lamido's alibi.
Eureka, they discovered from MINT's books of accounts that Sanusi Lamido
The auditors saw the gross total business MINT did for hundreds of its
customers – including the Central Bank of Nigeria under Sanusi Lamido in
the year 2012 – as being just ₦29billion. The F.R.C audit surveyors
saw no evidence at all of MINT ever receiving ₦38.23 billion from
Sanusi Lamido which should have reflected in MINT's annual turnover.
The long and the short of it is that till today the ₦38.23 billion
is missing and remains stolen. That stark and simple fact is the elephant
in the room.
Reacting to this F.R.C audit survey proof, a clutch of Nigerian
journalists somewhat un-cleverly weaved words in a spool to blur this
theft and never once drew the intelligent inference that a prosecutable
theft case of ₦38.23 billion has occurred at the Central Bank of
Nigeria. Not one Nigerian journalist drew that logical inference till
date, despite that the F.R.C audit was released to the public since two
Whereas, a newspaper as public trust, is improper for use in an
intellectual war to defeat one's own country. A country is one because it
has operative laws prohibiting crimes and thefts. It is not the duty of a
journalist to undermine those prohibitions by a self-induced trade-off.
But not just a few journalists traded off the pursuit of the whole truth -
a large swathe of the country's educated class of lawyers, activists and
public commentators also did. On the overall, many Nigerians let
themselves down on the Sanusi Lamido case when they delusively saw a clash
of principles, when theft at the Central Bank was all there was.
Paradoxically, several trees were felled in Nigeria in the last two weeks
for journalists to have more reams of paper to foster the delusion with
more weasel words by doing all that was un-necessary as if to assure that
everyone else will also fail to see the wood for the trees.
The Sanusi Lamido case thus exposes a latent but certain illogic in the
Nigerian populace with educated Nigerians taking the lead in somersaulting
over a stark simple matter. They all but lost their way in the mental web
they spun to becloud the sole fact by deeming an audit survey of Central
Bank of Nigeria conducted by the F.R.C as having the same credibility as
Sanusi Lamido's own merely verbal say-so that three contradictory figures
of money are altogether or separately missing in the national oil company,
Immediately after finishing that intellectual somersault, the Nigerian
commentariat went astray. Most craftily overlooked the audit-proved
₦38.23 billion theft at Central Bank and instead hollered that there
is a likely scam at the NNPC – to detain further criminal processing of an
already proved theft at CBN – whereas, the audit of NNPC accounts is yet
to start till date, to provide a scintilla of evidence of theft at NNPC.
So how can anyone know that a specific of money is (surely) missing in
NNPC without audit proof?
It beggars belief that supposedly educated Nigerians deem a completed
audit of Central Bank as evidentially equal to a verbal allegation by
Sanusi Lamido against the NNPC, when quite clearly a verbal allegation is
at best mere speculation until tested by NNPC audit investigation which
Indeed, on what documentary facts do Nigerians run to town that $20.8b is
surely missing in NNPC as at today? They'll tell you they have none -
except that one Sanusi Lamido said so. Then ask them: what is the
reputation of that Sanusi Lamido for honesty? They'll have no answer after
splitting hairs and clutching at straws. Oh, but sensible people don't do
that; they'll rather assess whose word to take as gospel truth without
When Sanusi Lamido said $49.8billion was missing at NNPC last September he
apologized for that nonsense only to rebounce within weeks to say
$12billion was missing, and without apologizing on why he falsified
himself on that $12billion, he inflicted himself on the public, yet again,
to say $20billion is the amount missing – all within three months.
Is Sanusi Lamido the sort of fellow, in this specific context, that a
reasoning person should take for his word? Of course not, but there you
have it, with several educated Nigerians blithely quarterbacking Sanusi
Lamido's lack of fidelity to veracity.
Now, ask the knaves: 'this $20.8 billion-is-missing sing-song that you
parrot without thought, does it include the $9.8billion the PPPRA
confirmed on the Senate floor as lawfully deducted by NNPC under the
petrol and kerosene subsidy reimbursement law in force?'
Of course it includes it, according to Sanusi Lamido's own allegation. So
the next question is: did Sanusi Lamido accept that he was in error on
that $9.8b component of his $20billion-is-missing claim? Yes, of course,
he did admit his error openly on the Senate floor.
Now, after deducting Sanusi Lamido's fourth admitted error of $9.8b from
the $20billion he'd alleged missing, what do you get as remainder? The
spin-masters in Nigeria say you'll still get $20billion – and that's the
din they all run to town with today.
What a betrayal of education in Nigeria!
Some of those running with the din even more daringly say nobody should
look into whatever Sanusi Lamido might have pocketed “until the government
prosecutes the $20billion theft at NNPC”, but pray, who did Sanusi Lamido
say should be specifically prosecuted at NNPC and for what proved and
specific amount of money in each culprit's pocket?
Nobody – because Sanusi Lamido himself merely guesses, since only a
financial audit can reveal conclusive thefts at NNPC and by whom.
The official position today is that Central Bank external auditors who
signed off the Central bank's 2012 annual accounts are to be criminally
investigated for complicity if the external auditors did not flag this CBN
theft and other financial irregularities in a separate Management report.
Secondly, an audit of the NNPC is now to be supervised by the Nigerian
Senate, rather than the Ministry of Finance. In advance of that
Senate-supervised audit of NNPC, a wise person will not take to the street
hollering that a specific amount of money ($20b) is missing in the course
of trading business at NNPC. But quite a few Nigerians hardly see that
mental contradiction as diminishing themselves for doing the opposite in
plainly illogical disorder.
In their desultory flit, some educated Nigerians clutch at more straws.
They accuse the country's president, Goodluck Jonathan, of malice for
acting on the official report of a statutory body – the F.R.C – without
their showing proof that similar audit indictment of theft also exists
against a specific person in the NNPC which the government refuses to act
This particular charge of uneven-handedness dripping in some newspaper
editorials is syrupy for conflating a speculation ($20b missing at NNPC)
with an established fact (₦38.23 billion is stolen at the Central
Bank), moreso that the audit of NNPC accounts is yet to commence.
At any rate, there's no nexus between the F.R.C audit survey of Central
Bank (concluded since February 2013 and notified to Sanusi Lamido in March
2013), and, Sanusi Lamido's later allegations of likely scam at the NNPC
much later in September 2013. No nexus at all.
For starters the ₦38.23 billion stolen at Central Bank of Nigeria is
the cash asset of Central Bank. So where does NNPC come in?
• If theft is later discovered at NNPC, how will that justify or
explain away the theft of ₦38.23billion un-covered much earlier in
February 2013 by the F.R.C?
• What does NNPC have to do with the cash assets of Central Bank proved
stolen by F.R.C audit survey?
• Under what law in Nigeria is the theft of ₦38.23billion at
Central Bank of Nigeria to be overlooked or allowed to stand if theft is
later discovered in NNPC?
• Is the ₦38.23billion proved stolen at the Central Bank of
Nigeria to be taken free by the thieves, without any obligation to return
it, if theft is later discovered at the NNPC?
Well, perhaps the red-herring allusion to NNPC in a specific discussion of
₦38.23 billion theft in Central Bank is all a stalling trick, who
knows? But for so long as prosecution follows audit-proved indictment
under the law, and for so long as F.R.C specifically demands prosecution
in its submitted official report, the odds are that Sanusi Lamido and some
other CBN directors will sooner or later be arraigned on at least two
criminal counts of stealing contrary to the Penal Code, and, for official
false accounting contrary to Nigeria's Procurement Act (2007).
To hope to stall that natural progression of a financial crime indictment
by interposing a totally un-related oral allegation that fraud might be
occurring in NNPC, but without a beyond reasonable doubt documentary
proof, is a no-brainer.
By the laws of Nigeria, President Jonathan, powerful as he may consider
himself, has no option at this stage but to refer Sanusi Lamido for
criminal trial on the missing and stolen ₦38.23 billion in Central
Bank, not least because President Jonathan lacks legal right to forgive
either the theft or the loss of public money.
Much more than that, it is a criminal offence of 'compounding a felony'
should President Jonathan attempt to privately settle a financial crime
all by himself. And in extent the 'compounding of a felony' is itself a
crime; it may be a basis for the impeachment of President Jonathan himself
in accordance with the 1999 Constitution (as amended to its 3rd
alteration), which risk President Jonathan will not like to needlessly run
for Sanusi Lamido's sake.