Former Central Bank Governor, CBN, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, has described claims by activist lawyer, Femi Falana, that he unlawfully doled $7 billion of Nigeria’s reserves to banks as loan as a “blatant lie.”
Falana had accused Soludo alongside the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Abubakar Sanusi II, also a former CBN governor, of diverting public funds during their seperate tenures as head of the apex Bank.
The Senior Advocate had urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to probe the tenures of both former governors.
Reacting to Falana’s allegation, the former CBN boss demanded that the senior lawyer presents his evidence or an apology.
In a statement released on Saturday, Soludo said, “I largely ignore such ignorant commentaries.
“However, Femi Falana is one of the Nigerians I deeply respect, and I am sure many Nigerians also hold him in very high esteem. I was therefore shocked beyond belief that someone like him could fabricate and peddle blatant lies.”
Soludo, who left the CBN in 2009, insisted that Nigeria never lost one penny of the reserves throughout his tenure as CBN governor.
“From the above quotation, Falana alleged that I “removed” $7 billion from Nigeria’s external reserves and gave same as a “loan” to 14 Nigerian banks in 2006, and apparently such a “loan” has not been recovered. This is a blatant lie and I challenge Falana to publish the details of such a “loan” which remains unpaid or as a person with honour, publish a retraction and unreserved apology immediately,” Soludo said.
He disclosed that at the end of his tenure, he left the apex bank with a legacy of Nigeria having the highest rate of reserve accumulation in its 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.
“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.
“That under the provisions of the CBN Act as well as the guidelines for the management of foreign reserves, it is 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.
Soludo further stated that he was open to entertain questions at anytime regarding his stewardship as head of the apex bank.
“I have come to terms with the fact that part of the burden one bears for having held public office in Nigeria is that one has to endure all kinds of uninformed and sometimes mischievous attempts to malign one’s character,” he added.