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‘Jonathan’s aides are fraudulent, incompetent’ – Suspended CBN Governor Sanusi

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The suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, yesterday described President Goodluck Jonathan as a simple man trying to do well, but who has been undermined by incompetent and fraudulent aides.

Sanusi was suspended by Jonathan last Thursday over alleged financial misconduct. He had accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) of misappropriating $20 billion.

In an interview yesterday with AFP in Lagos, Sanusi said many of the people advising Jonathan are sycophants, who are not sincere about the extent of corruption in government.

“When you sit with President Jonathan himself, he appears a nice simple person who is trying his best to do his best,” Sanusi said.

“His greatest failing obviously is that he is surrounded by people who are extremely incompetent, who are extremely fraudulent and whom he trusts.”

Jonathan, who has led Nigeria since 2010, is expected to seek another term in elections next year, but is expected first to overcome unprecedented divisions within his own party.
When Sanusi was removed, just four months before his tenure would expire, analysts voiced concern that Jonathan was seeking to sideline an increasingly vocal critic of his government’s record on corruption.

Sanusi learnt of his suspension while in Niger Republic for a regional meeting. He immediately returned to Lagos, where intelligence agents from the Department of State Services (DSS) seized his passport.

On Friday, he secured a temporary order from the Federal High Court in Lagos barring DSS agents or police from arresting him.

“I thought taking away my passport was the beginning of infringement on my fundamental human rights,” Sanusi said, explaining why he sought the court’s protection.
Regarding the allegations against him, Sanusi said he had earlier this year heard of a report condemning his performance and wrote to Jonathan in “June or July” asking if an explanation was needed, but received no reply.

He said the first time he was formally notified about the allegations was the day he was suspended.
Sanusi argued that it would be too simple to describe his removal as payback for his attacks on the NNPC.

“Since 2009, I have been annoying the government… You’ve got people who think I have the wrong friends, people who think maybe I have not distanced myself enough from people who are seen to be opposition figures,” he further said.
The list of his enemies may have been built up over years, but the NNPC affair appeared to be the final straw.

The NNPC has become notorious as one of the most opaque oil companies in the world, but Sanusi said the extent of the graft may have reached an historic high.
“I think everybody has known that NNPC is rotten. I don’t think it has ever been as bad as this,” he said.

He has levelled various accusations against the company, but an alleged kerosene subsidy payment scam has received increased attention.
Even though the NNPC pays subsidies to kerosene vendors, Nigerian consumers still pay full market price for the product.

According to Sanusi, the so-called kerosene subsidy money in fact pays for “private jets…yachts… and expensive property in Beverly Hills and Switzerland.”

Sanusi has ruled out running for elected office, but said he may still have a future in public service.

In the short term, he voiced his readiness to face any attack that may be coming from those committed to preserving the status quo.

“If I am sacrificed in whatever way, my freedom or my life… if it does lead to better accountability it will be well worth it,” he said.

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