George Uboh is the chairman of the George Uboh Whistleblowers Network. He sought and got an ex parte order from the Abuja Federal High Court restraining the senate from confirming the reappointment of Godwin Emefiele as Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria, CBN. Uboh alleged that in 2015, Emefiele in connivance with the NNPC, diverted the sum of $2.564bn expected to be shared by the Federation Account Allocation Committee to the 3 arms of government in January 2016.
Uboh also alleged that in 2017, Emefiele under-declared and under-remitted a total sum of $760M,from what was described as the CBN’s gains from Bureau De Change (BDCs) due to be credited into the Federation account. The Federal high court having been satisfied with Uboh’s submissions,ordered that the senate hold off any confirmation of Godwin Emefiele as CBN governor.That order was not complied with by the senate and Emefiele also did not respond to the lawsuit. Rather,a complaint of ‘false information’ was lodged with the Nigeria police by one Ned Nwoko.
Uboh was swiftly arrested and when he was granted bail by the Upper Area Court Zuba, FCT,he was picked up right away by the police in respect of another complaint lodged by Emefiele himself this time. With Uboh still in detention for a period spanning about 3 weeks, Emefiele having totally neglected Uboh’s suit against him and the issues raised, has filed an action in court for defamation against Uboh.
The one thing George Uboh has consistently asked through his lawyers over the past weeks is that he be allowed to provide concrete proof to support his allegations.
This is the Nigeria we have come to live in for the last 4 years. A Nigeria where government stays mute when allegations of corruption are raised against top officials. Aisha Buhari’s aide de camp,Sanni Baba-Inna has been arrested for duping unnamed persons of N2.5bn in her name. Baba-Inna’s family members have been quoted as saying he had been her front for quite some time before he started to act greedy. They claim there are not only audio evidence but also documents including a duplicate evidencing a house he bought for one of her daughters in Asokoro.
Almost a year later, Baba-Inna is still yet to be charged to court. So also former DSS chief and Buhari townsman, Lawal Daura who some believe was made a scapegoat when the big countries started asking questions about the shutting down of the National Assembly at the height of its face off with the Presidency. Suspicions are bound to arise from President Buhari not only reappointing a Jonathan appointee as CBN governor but also one of South East extraction. He may very well be a burden to be carried along because he knows too much on the shady dealings of this administration. Like Baba Inna and Lawal Daura only unlike them, he hasn’t given them cause to dump, hide and forget him in jail some where. If they are scared you have anything to say, you are locked up and forgotten. We as a people must ensure that doesn’t happen to George Uboh. He must not only be released if he won’t be charged to court, he mustn’t be intimidated into keeping quiet. His evidence must be investigated.
When Sahara Reporters leaked a telephone conversation between Emefiele and some other officials bordering on how to cover up a N500bn deficit in the Central bank’s books believed to have been stolen and invested in a business that didn’t yield the desired fruits, the apex bank’s response was that they had made some error in the classification of loans issued to some states.
But on the audio,Emefiele is heard saying “i am not too happy that Arowosegbe led us like this, in fact, that was what i was asking, i said we have an impression that we had 500 billion, he said no…where are we going to find this? Now we are in a very bad situation”.
One of the officials is also heard suggesting that the Ministry of Finance be solicited to lie on their behalf.
Curiously,the senate under a defeated and unenthusiastic Saraki confirmed him without asking him anything relating to the scandal. Instead he was showered with encomiums and told to keep up the good work.Now a man screaming to the world he has evidence the CBN governor embezzled $2.5bn not only got arrested but had his entire residence ransacked perhaps to find the incriminating evidence.Despite the nagging questions, Emefiele’s N500bn scandal was allowed to pass.
With the way the system has been used to haunt Uboh, no one expects him to trust the police enough to hand them the evidence but the anti-graft agencies are looking the other way as far as his claims are concerned.If someone could get hold of a recorded telephone conversation of Emefiele musing over a N500bn deficit with his CBN cronies which was authenticated by the apex bank itself,then it won’t take a trip to Pluto to lay hands on evidence of a financial crime.
The police must release or charge Uboh to court and the EFCC must as a matter of urgency study the evidence in his custody and do the needful. A good man must not be punished for a good deed.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano