You lied, Soludo tells Falana

Prof Chukwuma Soludo, former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria has described as blatant lies the accusation of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, who accused him of unlawfully giving out $7 billion from Nigeria’s reserves to 14 banks as loans.

Reacting, the former CBN chief said he was shocked beyond belief that someone of Falana’s caliber could fabricate and peddle blatant lies.

Mr. Soludo said one of the legacies of his tenure as CBN Governor was the highest rate of reserve accumulation in Nigeria’s history as well as its effective and efficient management.

“On assumption of office, I met exactly $10 billion in foreign reserves. With average monthly oil price of $59 during my tenure, we accumulated reserves to all time high of over $62 billion. Even after paying off Nigeria’s external debt with $12 billion and facing unprecedented global financial and economic crisis, I still left $45 billion upon leaving office in 2009,” he said.

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“Throughout my tenure, Nigeria never lost one penny of the reserves. It is particularly important to note that even during the global financial crisis of 2008/2009 when major international banks collapsed and some countries lost some of their reserves, our prudent management ensured that Nigeria never lost a penny but earned returns on the reserves. Given the powerful interests that I fought during the consolidation of banks and even since I left office, one can only imagine the international headlines that would have been made if just one penny of the reserves was unaccounted for.

Soludo said under the provisions of the CBN Act as well as the guidelines for the management of foreign reserves, it was impossible for anyone to ‘remove’ any sum of money from the reserves and give out as “loan” to commercial banks in Nigeria. “To qualify as ‘foreign reserves’ such reserves are held in foreign currency abroad as deposits with banks or in sovereign instruments such as the US treasury bills,” he said.

Femi Falana had last week urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate both Soludo and his predecessor, Lamido Sanusi for alleged “criminal diversion or withholding” of government funds by the CBN. He said Sanusi also gave an unrecovered N600 billion as bail out to the same banks as well as illegally paying N2.5 trillion instead of N245 billion to fuel marketers as subsidy.