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$480m AFC Probe: Pressure mounts on panel to nail Soludo

Posted by By Sun News Publishing on 2008/06/30 | Views: 3232 |

$480m AFC Probe: Pressure mounts on panel to nail Soludo


The committee set up by the Federal Government to investigate how Nigeria invested $480 million in the African Finance Corporation (AFC) appears to be embroiled in crisis, following the allegation of a predetermined attempt within the panel to rubbish the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukuma Soludo.

The committee set up by the Federal Government to investigate how Nigeria invested $480 million in the African Finance Corporation (AFC) appears to be embroiled in crisis, following the allegation of a predetermined attempt within the panel to rubbish the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukuma Soludo.

Government had set up the committee to among other briefs, determine the laws and procedures relating to the setting up of such institutions as the AFC and ascertain whether such laws and procedures had been complied with to date by all relevant persons and authorities in the establishment, funding and operations of the corporation.

The panel was also mandated to ascertain the source of the authority for the withdrawal of the sum of $480 million for the purchase of equity in AFC by the CBN.
Daily Sun gathered that after conducting its investigations and making inquiries from Prof. Soludo and senior officials of the apex, the panel found nothing incriminating against the CBN boss.
However, it was further gathered as it appeared the committee would turn in a “not guilty” verdict on Soludo, certain interested parties began undercurrent moves to pressure the members to nail the CBN boss at all cost.

A source in the committee who declined to be named said: “If it were an innocent inquiry, we should have submitted our report after the first week because there was nothing to report according to our terms of reference. We were given three weeks but we are now in the third month, and yet there is no report.”
The reason why there is no report, according to the source, was because of the dilemma the committee was facing.

“The people who set us up had their mind set on what the report should look like and had probably even written the recommendations before setting us up. You may be surprised that the so-called interim report submitted to the president was not written by this committee. We have never written any report as a committee and you can quote me. We have been told to find anything negative, but so far, we have found nothing. From three weeks to three months we have been looking to find anything negative to form the basis of the recommendations which they have already written, but we have difficulty finding any.”
It was gathered that the committee was faced with the task of manipulating its findings to fit into the agenda the parties with vested interest wanted to achieve.

“First, we were told to recommend that Soludo should go on leave to enable us do an indepth investigation. That would have been ridiculous since there was no information we needed that they did not provide us. Second, they wanted us to recommend that further police investigation or arrest of the officers be undertaken. This is also baseless as there is nothing we can see that they did wrong. We cannot show that Soludo or any of the officers benefited personally. Government investment has been recovered and even the interest earned is known.

So, what is the problem? Frankly speaking, everything they want us to write in the report cannot stand any serious scrutiny,” the source revealed further.
According to him, the committee came to the conclusion that the AFC was an excellent initiative and that the promoters should be commended and that the government should hasten up to ratify the agreements. “We were going to recommend some minor changes here and there. But they are not letting us do our professional job, and some of us are really very sad but no one dares to show it.”

Asked why the members had not resigned, he retorted: “ “Have you not heard of ICPC and EFCC and that those who set us up also control those agencies?” The source, however, declined to name the officers forcing them to change their report.
He expressed the belief it was either to achieve a predetermined goal or to use it to blackmail Soludo when asked to comment on the possible motive for the probe or why they were desperate for a negative report.

The source did not believe that President Umaru Yar’Adua knew the details of what was going on. “The whole thing now is politics and witch-hunting, by people below the president,” he regretted.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.