Damning reports have emerged that the Senate President Bukola Saraki blackmailed officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to “bribe” him with N250million as “hush” funds after the senator had found out that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had illicitly approved N60billion for the former National Security Advisor (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, to purchase “arms”.
According to Sahara Reporters, a source close to the polity (Senior CBN Officer) disclosed that bank officials paid the “bribe” to Saraki – not yet the Senate President – to ensure that he and other senators kept silent about the irregular withdrawals by the NSA and the Jonathan administration.
It also revealed that some officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria had quietly resisted several attempts by officials of the Jonathan administration to carry out large-scale theft of funds from the national treasury in the name of fighting Islamist insurgent group, Boko Haram insurgents.
An informant of the CBN made available to SaharaReporters a quickly typewritten document that detailed how ex-NSA, Mr. Dasuki, requested tranches of dollars from the bank after obtaining approval from former President Jonathan between February and March this year.
The document reads, in third week of February 2015 the former NSA requested for $250 million from the CBN, but got $200 million. In the fourth week of February, the NSA put in a request for $150 million but received $125 million.
In the first week of March 2015, with Nigeria’s postponed elections a few weeks away, the NSA made a request for another $250 million, but only got $204 million. In the second week of March, Mr. Dasuki again called for $250 million, but the CBN provided $104 million and N3 billion.
According to the whistleblower, Abbas Umar Masanawa who was appointed as the Executive Director in charge of Finance and Strategy at the Nigerian Minting Company by the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele as soon as he resumed as CBN governor in 2014 played a major role. Our source said Mr. Abbas then oversaw “the printing of an unprecedented amount of naira by the Mint,” adding “the printed cash was passed on to President Jonathan.” Masanawa was key aide of Mr. Emefiele while he was the MD of Zenith Bank before he got appointed to the Mint.
The source revealed that Jonathan and former NSA Dasuki withdrew close to $600 million from the CBN within a period of three to four weeks. He said the funds were mostly used for election purposes.
Recall that news had broke with details of the illegal withdrawal of N60billion from the CBN as well as the theft of public funds from the NNPC. It was alleged that a senator, on learning about the illegal withdrawals, threatened CBN officials that he would reveal the payments unless they gave him N5billion.
A source at the Presidency told Sahara Reporters that the person in question is Senator Bukola Saraki, who is now Senate President. It was revealed that as recently as May 2015, Saraki received N250 million from CBN officials. The cash transfer was deemed part of the “bribe” to ensure that Saraki keep quiet about the questionable withdrawals ostensibly meant for arms purchases.
The Presidency source suggested that Saraki got wind of the illegal transactions through a CBN staff loyal to the ousted CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. During the period in question Saraki had become a fierce opponents of President Jonathan haven dumped the PDP and with attempts made by the regime to kick him out of the Senate.
The source also stated that Saraki’s blackmail of CBN officials also included a demand that the CBN approve Heritage Bank’s takeover of Enterprise Bank as recently as August 2015. Senator Saraki has significant equity stake in Heritage Bank.
Apparently basking in his ability to compel the CBN to do his bidding, Saraki urged the bank’s top officials to remove the National Assembly from the Treasury Single Account policy, even after President Muhammadu Buhari had explicitly refused to allow that exclusion. In an apparent attempt to force the hand of both the CBN and President Buhari, one of Saraki’s closest allies, Senator Dino Melaye, raised an alarm accusing the government of stealing N25billion from the TSA via a remittance fee charged by a third party company that had been hired by President Jonathan’s administration.
But when a probe committee looked into the alleged fraud, it could not find proof of missing money.