Lamido Sanusi, Nigeria’s central bank governor, has been suspended for “financial recklessness and misconduct” by the country’s president.
Sanusi, a previously respected figure who has undertaken banking reforms since 2009, caused shockwaves throughout Nigeria when he claimed USD 20 billion in oil revenue had disappeared between January 2012 and July 2013.
He had told a senate committee his findings earlier this month, yet The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has stated his allegations show “little understanding of the technicalities of the oil industry.”
The country, as one of the world’s largest oil producers, now awaits an attempt to expose the high-level fraud and corruption often found in Nigeria – and in particular within its murky oil sector.
In 2010, Sanusi was named Banker magazine’s Central Bank Governor of the Year.
He has stated that in every month for a 19-month period, over USD 1 billion was unaccounted for in the bank’s records.
Nigeria’s state oil firm however denies failing to account for the money.
The controversy comes as the state’s elections draw near, and align with awkward questions being asked of the president’s senior officials.
Whilst the presidential statement announcing the suspension talked of “investigations into breaches of enabling laws, due process and mandate” of the Central Bank of Nigeria, many citizens are expected to question whether the president wishes to pursue the suspension of whistleblowers over stopping fraud.
However, Sanusi’s critics wonder whether his motivations are political, and consider the attack on President Jonathan as a ploy to ruin the president’s chances in the 2015 elections.
In the meantime, foreign exchanges and bond markets have halted trading due to uncertainty caused.
This is not the first time corruption warnings have been raised in the country.
Former head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Nuhu Ribadu was suspended in 2007, and within the oil sector, many Nigerians have staged protests against oil-related corruption, but are frequently met with forceful government suppression.