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SERAP tells CBN governor, Cardoso to explain whereabouts of N100 billion within seven days

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Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Olayemi Cardoso
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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP has asked the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Olayemi Cardoso, to explain the whereabouts of over N100 billion dirty and bad naira notes where were lodged across the apex bank branches nationwide.

In a statement which was issued on Sunday by the SERAP in Abuja, the CBN governor was also asked to account for other large sum of cash awaiting examination, but which have disappeared, too.

The demand was sequel to allegations against the CBN which was captured in the latest annual report released by the Auditor-General for the Federation, adding that the sum of N7.2 billion budget for the construction of Dutse branch in 2010 and that of N4.8 billion budgeted for the renovation of Abeokuta branch of the Central Bank in 2009 should also be accounted for.

The group advised the apex bank governor to publish names of the contractors who failed to execute the contract after collecting money.

On loans, SERAP demanded the CBN to provide the whereabouts of the alleged missing N1.2 million outstanding loan granted to the Enugu State government in 2015; the sum of N1.9 billion loan granted to Anambra State government in 2015 and 2016, advising the CBN to recover those loans and remit to the public treasury.

SERAP urged him to refer these “grave violations” of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the CBN Act and the country’s national and international anticorruption obligations to appropriate anticorruption agencies for investigation and prosecution, as appropriate, and the recovery of the public funds.

In the letter dated 29 June 2024 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “These grim allegations by the Auditor-General suggest grave violations of the public trust, the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, the CBN Act, and national and international anticorruption obligations.

“These grave violations also reflect a failure of CBN accountability more generally and are directly linked to the institution’s persistent failure to comply with its Act and to uphold the principles of transparency and accountability.

“These grave violations have seriously undermined the ability of the CBN to effectively discharge its statutory functions and the public trust and confidence in the bank. The CBN ought to be committed to transparency and accountability in its operations.

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel you and the CBN to comply with our request in the public interest.

“Explaining the whereabouts of the missing public funds, publishing the names of those suspected to be responsible and ensuring that they are brought to justice and the full recovery of any missing public funds would serve the public interest and end the impunity of perpetrators.

“According to the recently published 2020 audited report by the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has since 2017 been keeping over N100 billion [N100,672,999,000.00] ‘dirty and bad notes’, and other large sums of cash awaiting examination in various branches of the CBN.

The Auditor-General fears that the ‘dirty and bad notes’ initially planned to be destroyed may have been ‘been diverted and re-injected into the economy.’

“The CBN in August 2010 also reportedly budgeted N7.2 billion [N7,286,500,476.76] for the construction of Dutse branch building. The Dutse branch was due to be completed in November 2012 but the contractors have failed to complete the project.

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