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Nigeria: When the law is broken, people must pay the price –

Sanusi Lamido, CBN Governor

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido, in this interview with journalists at the annual meetings of the World Bank/ International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington D.C.,

the United  States (U.S.), speaks on a wide range of issues bordering on the trial of bank chiefs, AMCON and his relationship with Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, among others.

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, in this interview with journalists at the annual meetings of the World Bank/ International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington D.C., the United  States (U.S.), speaks on a wide range of issues bordering on the trial of bank chiefs, AMCON and his relationship with Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, among others.

are you satisfied with the court verdict of a six-month jail term for the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Oceanic International Bank Plc, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru. From the look of things, she may not spend more than two months in prison?

You have somebody facing a trial, the Prison Services have a way of doing their things. If somebody is sick, she will be taken to the hospital. If you have a year sentence, you are covered by the prison custody. If you have a year sentence and you are in the hospital, it is part of the sentence.

On the issue of the six months, before now, there was noise that the CBN cannot jail CEO of banks, now when she got a conviction, they said it is only six months. This is somebody who pleaded guilty and agreed to forfeit her assets for us to recover depositors fund.

Even though, it is not an ideal sentence, going through the legal process might take a number of years and she volunteered to forfeit her assets instead of going through the long process, expenditure and trauma. If she opted to continue for the number of years.

At that period, a number of assets acquired may have disappeared, they may have lost value, because they have notbeen in use for years, then she will not get anything out of them. She might run all the risks of huge legal expenditure and still go to jail because I have no doubt in my mind that we have enough evidence to convict everybody that we have charged.

It is just that it will take enough time. Now, if somebody says I don’t want to stay for long in this trial and admitted to committing an offence, let us draw the line and agree for forfeiture, it happens everywhere, the bank director will get the benefit of saving the state’s expenses and saving the nation’s of trauma.

What Ibru has done regardless of all the circumstances is 100 per cent better than those complaining that they have done nothing but that they are just being victimised and then dissipated energies on creating all sorts of stories.

A year ago, when we removed Mrs. Ibru, the story was that it was not possible, it will not last.

When we started the trial, the story was that in Nigeria, it is not possible to jail bank CEOs because of the fact that they are rich and highly connected. I said it times without number that those who think that because of the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, they will work free will be surprised and that it will not happen according to their expectation.

Sincerely, I have confidence in President Goodluck Jonathan, that he is honest and will not interfere, but some of them thought the change in government will make them go free. And today, they can see for themselves and face the reality. Perhaps some of them believed that I was executing a Northern agenda. Prosecuting fraudulent bank CEOs is not a Northern agenda.

I think it is a good thing for the country. It has shown that the way people think that may be because somebody is my friend or from one part of the country, nobody look at it anymore. If you commit an offence, no matter whom you are, if you cross the line, you will pay the price for it.

For me, I am happy to focus on how depositors’ fund will not disappear again in Nigeria because of my training and background.

My concentration on how to ensure the return of stolen money, I am happy, has resulted in the forfeiture of the assets of Mrs. Ibru totaling N191 billion in the book of Oceanic, which is the highest recovery in criminal trial in the history of Nigeria .

That money is going back to the depositors. And don’t forget that whatever value put up by AMCON is going back to the bank’s book. It is recovery and it has never happened in the history of Nigeria . You have to balance public and personal interests.

The ongoing prosecution of bank directors is not the issue of individual and personally, it is traumatic for me and I don’t know how many of the journalists know that I have very good relationship with the Ibru family.

I am not personally happy about somebody’s misfortune, but as a country, we have to ensure that when the law is broken in a certain manner, people have to pay the price and I think that is an important lesson.


For the fact that Mrs.

Ibru today is convicted is a big lesson for the elite, the rich and the powerful people in Nigeria .

It is not perfect, it is not ideal but maybe, I would have wanted more but in the circumstance, the Justice Ministry has done very well and the minister must be commended for holding firm on the trial and the political support that remained after the transition is important in the process.