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Why Buhari Must Order The Immediate Arrest Of Okonjo-Iweala And CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele – Part 2

December 16, 2015

Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended, subsection 80(2)

80. (2) No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by this Constitution or where the issue of those moneys has been authorised by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or an Act passed in pursuance of section 81 of this Constitution.Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the $2 billion arms probe

Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala and her coterie of paid writers have been fighting a losing battle to save what they have called the former minister’s reputation which is based on the assumption that she has any left. What they do not understand is that a drowning sailor cannot be trying to save his “fedora” hat while ignoring his head. Afterall, he needs a head to perch his hat on! 

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s main concern at this point in time ought to be whether she will spend the remainder of her years on earth in the comfort of her Washington D.C. mansion with her family or whether the family will have to make monthly pilgrimage to one of Nigeria’s numerous rats and cockroach infested jails to visit with her. 

In part 1 of this article I called on President Buhari to order the immediate arrest of the former finance minister as well as the current governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele just as he did in the case of Dasuki and co. As the chief law enforcement officer of the federation, there is nothing untoward in this action. If the president ordering the arrest of someone suspected of committing a criminal offence is a violation of the Constitution I am confident that Dasuki’s high prized lawyers as well as those who will represent Okonjo-Iweala would be capable of raising the defense in court. It can only benefit them if valid. So maybe they should pray for it! 

Without rehashing the contents of the earlier article, my call with respect to the CBN governor was and continues to be based on the fact that several cash withdrawals well over the threshold established by our anti-money laws were authorized by him. One of those withdrawals was the sum of $47million U.S.D. given to Sambo Dasuki in eleven suitcases. Confirmation of this particular withdrawal came from the CBN in response to EFCC’s request and the document has been filed in court as part of the evidence in support of the charges against Sambo Dasuki. The question then becomes - if the CBN under Godwin Emefiele exceeded the limit for cash withdrawals by 4700% as established by our anti-money laundering laws is there then a reason why the head of the CBN should not be arrested and made to face the consequences of the law?

  Regarding Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, my call was and continues to be based on the established-beyond-doubt fact that the finance minister admitted spending the sum of $322million of the yet to be appropriated Abacha loot. The minister admitted in her own letter to then President Goodluck Jonathan that the money was yet to be appropriated. Unlike the United States where judges often hide behind the toga of “if our founding fathers had thought about it” to justify judicial law making, those who wrote the 1999 Constitution clearly thought about the inappropriateness of spending unappropriated funds and the associated fiscal and macro-economic hazards it poses to our economy and decided to prohibit it, notwithstanding the imperfections inherent in the Constitution itself. Below are the provisions of subsections 80(2)(3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution as it concerns the issue:      

80. (2) No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by this Constitution or where the issue of those moneys has been authorised by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or an Act passed in pursuance of section 81 of this Constitution.

(3) No moneys shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of those moneys has been authorized by an Act of the National Assembly.

(4) No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has implied that the seriousness of the Boko Haram insurgency made it imperative for her to give the now incarcerated Sambo Dasuki $322million of unappropriated funds pursuant to Goodluck Jonathan’s instructions. Again, the 1999 Constitution anticipated situations where it will become necessary to spend money that was not budgeted for and provided for those situations accordingly. The relevant provision of subsection 81(4) is reproduced below:

81. (4) If in respect of any financial year it is found that -

(a) the amount appropriated by the Appropriation Act for any purpose is insufficient; or

(b) a need has arisen for expenditure for a purpose for which no amount has been appropriated by the Act,

a supplementary estimate showing the sums required shall be laid before each House of the National Assembly and the heads of any such expenditure shall be included in a Supplementary Appropriation Bill.

The only exception to the spending of unappropriated funds is to be found in section 82 of the Constitution which provides as follows:

82. If the Appropriation Bill in respect of any financial year has not been passed into law by the beginning of the financial year, the President may authorise the withdrawal of moneys in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation for the purpose of meeting expenditure necessary to carry on the services of the Government of the Federation for a period not exceeding months or until the coming into operation of the Appropriate Act, whichever is the earlier:

Provided that the withdrawal in respect of any such period shall not exceed the amount authorised to be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation under the provisions of the Appropriation Act passed by the National Assembly for the corresponding period in the immediately preceding financial year, being an amount proportionate to the total amount so authorised for the immediately preceding financial year.

As tempting as it maybe for Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to reverse course midway and dump her Boko Haram induced necessity as the reason for her malfeasance in giving Sambo Dasuki the $322million and invoke the exemption in section 82, the problem is that although the 2015 budget was approved on April 28, 2015, a date that would seem to justify the spending of unappropriated funds back on January 15, 2015 or thereabout, the problem with this defense is that this same Dr. Okonjo-Iweala prepared the 2015 national budget in which N289billion was allocated for defence. She remained in office until May 29, 2015. When you consider the fact that not only was the N289billion allocated for defense in the 2015 spent, the $322million was also spent. Assuming that the $322million she “dashed” to Sambo Dasuki back on January 15, 2015 was spent pursuant to the section 82 exemption why then did she not reduce the N289billion allocated to defence in the 2015 budget so as to capture the $322million already spent or submit a Supplementary Budget if the allocation was not enough? So the result remains the same under all scenarios – the spending of the $322million was in violation of section of the Constitution.    

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala first joined the government of Nigeria under former President Obasanjo and returned under President Goodluck Jonathan and with higher responsibilities. Despite the sleaze apparent in the two governments mentioned above, most Nigerians had hope that her presence will reduce the incidence of wanton theft of government resources. Lo and behold, she used her presence to facilitate a looting spree unparalleled in the history of Nigeria.

For a woman who owes her triumph and continuing existence over challenging personal medical issues to the ready availability of cutting edge medical facilities in the United States to superintend over the looting of funds that could have gone into providing, among other things, medical facilities for poor Nigerians who do not have the benefit of a John Hopkins consultant, her conduct represents a big dent on her personal integrity and that of the World Bank that was unable to discover the flaw in her character and promoted her to the point where she was able to lend her perceived integrity to the cause of looting Nigeria. 

For a woman who was once considered a genuine contender for the presidency of Nigeria in the dying days of the Olusegun Obasanjo to find comfort in a den of thieves should be confounding to even herself – wondering how she ended up in their mist. Her conduct in allowing the looting of government funds while she busied herself creating paper trail that will provide a defense in the future was a betrayal of the Nigerian people and an abuse of the powers vested in her office. It may interest Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to know that one of the offences that Sambo Dasuki has been charged with is abuse of office. 

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala need not benefit from the malfeasance she aided. Proof of benefit of the stolen funds is not an essential component of the section 80 violation. Her supporters continue to claim that she did not steal any money or benefit from the theft. That may very well be the case although many people wonder why an otherwise decent found woman comfort, for years, in the midst of the worst looters Nigerians have come to know and read about if it was not for the the pecuniary benefits. She is the only one who can answer those questions.

    In closing this Part 2 of the article, I once again call on President Buhari to immediately order the arrest of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Godwin Emefiele for reasons stated above. It may very well be the case that former CBN governors and finance ministers and many other government officials, including Emir Sanusi, may have cases to answer and I do not hold forth for nor defend them. But the difference between Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Godwin Emefiele is that in their own words and letters, they have provided the evidence needed for their own prosecution and conviction. I close by saying that a driver arrested for speeding cannot defend himself by saying “other drivers on the highway are speeding too.” You get caught, you face the music!