Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, a development focused and democracy inclined non-governmental organization has called on the National Assembly to probe the allegation that the new Central Bank OF Nigeria’s Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi failed to disclose that the Federal Government of Nigeria owes Nigerian banks about N3.2 trillion roughly over $220 billion United States dollars which compounded the debt profile of even the five banks recently axed by the nation’s top financial regulatory authority for alleged over-exposure to unserviceable debts.
The Human Rights group also cautioned the operatives of the Economic and financial crimes commission (EFCC) to stop the media trial, demonization of the erstwhile bank chieftains undergoing trial following their recent sack by the Central Bank of Nigeria over alleged official indiscretion.
The Rights group criticized the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for over dramatizing and sensationalizing the arrest and ongoing prosecution of the allegedly indicted banks’ executives just as it stated that the public conduct of the staff of the anti-graft agency including its chairperson Mrs. Farida Waziri shows that section 36 of the 1999 constitution which provides for fair hearing has been violated fragrantly.
Specifically, the new Central Bank of Nigeria Governor had about a month ago introduced what he called post-consolidation banking sector reforms and sacked five chief executives of some banks considered to be exposed to dangerous marginal and non-performing loans running to several Billions of Naira.
Among those sacked are Erastus Akigbola formerly of the Intercontinental bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru of the Oceanic Bank, Barth Ebong of Union Bank, Okey Nwosu of Finbank and Sabastine Adigwe of Afribank even as most of these sacked bank chiefs are facing prosecution at the Lagos division of the Federal High Court. Mrs. Ibru and Mr. Akingbola have instituted court cases to challenge what they considered as their unconstitutional and illegal removal from their plum positions by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
But the Rights group through a statement authorized by its National coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko demanded the immediate investigation of the allegation reportedly made by Dr. Federick Fasheun of the Oudua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) that the Central Bank Governor was economical with the truth by refusing to disclose that the Federal government’s huge indebtedness to these banks contributed in no small measures to the near-collapse state of the banking industry Nigeria.
The Rights group which says it supports any genuine, constitutionally binding and equitable measures to sanitize the nation’s ailing banking sector however demanded full disclosures by the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor on the issue of huge bad debts owed the various banks in the Country because “he who goes to equity must go with clean hands”.
According to it; “we read with trepidation and shock, the revelation at the Weekend by a respected Nigerian statesman Dr. Fasheun that the Central Bank of Nigeria in the ongoing banking reforms have failed to disclose the fact that the Government owes Nigerian banks about N3.2 trillion naira roughly over $220 billion United states dollars. We call on the two houses of the National Assembly to immediately commence independent and public investigations to ascertain the veracity of the weighty allegations even as it urged the Central Bank Governor to respect the due process of the law even as he continues with the ongoing reforms of the nation’s troubled banking sector. We believe that justice must not be one in the ongoing matters involving the banking reforms must be seen to have been done. The National Assembly must unravel the truth in this allegation and the individuals in Government that contributed to the terrible bad debt profile of the Federal
Government to these banks to also face the full wrath of the law.”
On the abuse of the human rights of the allegedly indicted erstwhile banking chiefs who, according to the rights group, are being actively demonized in the media by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the rights platform called on the operatives and officials of the crimes commission to respect the due process of the law in the discharge of their duty and to avoid falling to the temptation to dance to the public gallery in the ongoing prosecution of the former bank chiefs who in any case have challenged their removals in court of competent jurisdiction.
HURIWA said; “Though our members have endorsed any genuine measures put in place to rid the nation’s banking sector of all malpractices that endanger the safety of the deposits of mostly poor Nigerians, but we subscribe to the respect to the human rights of all those facing trial for alleged official indiscretion and misapplication of banks’ deposits. The Economic and financial crimes commission (EFCC) must respect section 36 (5) of the 1999 constitution which states that accused persons are innocent in the eyes of the law until proved otherwise by the competent court of law and not court of public mob justice.”