• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Nigerians await Obazee’s report on CBN, Tinubu’s action

Nigerians await Obazee’s report on CBN, Tinubu’s action

Nigerians are becoming anxious as they await the report of the Jim Obazee panel appointed to investigate the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the conduct of its former governor Godwin Emefiele, now languishing in the custody of security agencies.

Two weeks ago, George Akume, secretary to the government of the federation, promised that the findings of the panel will be made known to Nigerians but the quiet since then is leading to anxiety among Nigerians who now hope that President Bola Tinubu will receive the report and act promptly on the findings.

The silence and reports that Obazee has yet to submit his report are prompting speculations that powerful forces could be working to thwart the work of the investigators by delaying the report’s submission to the president.

Read also: Banks borrowing from CBN drops by 82.15% on increased liquidity

Obazee, who is said to have fiercely rebuffed offers of bribe to compromise him, was appointed to the task on July 28, 2023, by the president after Emefiele’s suspension. The former CBN governor was then to be picked up from his Ikoyi home in Lagos by detectives from the Department of State Services and flown to Abuja.

The president charged Obazee to “investigate the CBN and related entities using a suitably experienced, competent and capable team and work with relevant security and anti-corruption agencies to deliver on this assignment.”

In the brief, Tinubu said he expected to be briefed weekly on progress being made.

Since Obazee was appointed, the acting governor of the apex bank and his deputies have been relieved of their jobs, and BusinessDay learnt that this may not have been unconnected with the initial findings of the panel.

Media reports have suggested that the panel is working to unravel details of a slew of underhand dealings at the bank and its related entities.

Some in Abuja have estimated that the focus of the investigation could uncover nearly N7.5 trillion including movement of huge cash to acquire equity in companies and banks which may now become subject of nationalisation by the government.

Last week, an Abuja-based newspaper reported that some of the findings of the investigative panel may already be causing discomfort among some close to the president, but it is unclear if this is why the report has yet to be submitted to the president himself.

At least three sources told BusinessDay reporters in Abuja at the weekend that the panel has been focusing on widespread reports about how several houses in Abuja are being used to hide huge amounts of cash in both US dollars and naira.

Read also: CBN assigns roles to deputy governors

Some persons said to have assisted in hiding some of the loot are said to have confessed.

BusinessDay learnt former president Muhammadu Buhari cannot claim ignorance of the large-scale looting during his time in office, and according to one senior official, “only Buhari himself can say why he failed to act on the pile of security promptings that he received while in office.”

Several of his close aides and close confidantes have been fingered. Bank chiefs are also being mentioned.

According to another senior official, some of the answers to Nigeria’s current economic challenges can be eased by quickly seizing the large amounts of foreign currency cash that are being stashed away in homes in Abuja.

In his comments two weeks ago, Akume blamed the country’s economic woes on large-scale looting.

According to him, “Most of these problems confronting us are due to bad governance. The present government has confronted and is confronting these challenges. When President Bola Tinubu came on board, he took a very sound decision at the CBN. That singular act led to a massive improvement in the capital market, as experts have told us, it is something that has never happened in the past 15 years.”

During his October 1 national broadcast, President Tinubu had said Nigerians would be shocked at the content of the (Obazee) report and that he was expecting it to be formally submitted in a matter of days.

Read also: Controversy trails Obazee’s appointment by Tinubu

Those who know Obazee say they believe he will be fearless in doing the job and that Nigerians will be proud of the work he has done by the time this is over.

Some Nigerian government officials who spoke to BusinessDay in Abuja said they expect a similar investigation at the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited to follow soon.