President Goodluck Jonathan orders inquiry into Nigeria’s ‘missing’ $20bn of oil revenue

Ousted Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, claims the money has been diverted to fund campaigning for next year's elections

Lagos

President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered a forensic audit by international firms into $20bn (£12bn) allegedly missing from petroleum sales, following weeks of public outrage and demands by a Senate committee and the Finance Minister.

Mr Jonathan’s announcement came buried in a statement attacking the ousted Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi, insisting that his suspension last month was unrelated to his whistleblowing about what it calls “the phantom missing funds”.

When Mr Senusi first raised concerns over the missing funds, Mr Jonathan, whose leadership has been dogged by one corruption scandal after another since he took power in 2010, promptly levelled counter charges of “financial recklessness and misconduct” against the whistleblower, an internationally respected fiscal hawk who for nearly five years has headed the country’s Central Bank, and ordered his suspension. Mr Jonathan’s statement denied Mr Sanusi’s charges that the money has been diverted to fund campaigning for February 2015 elections, when the governing People’s Democratic Party will face its biggest challenge since taking power in 1994 elections that ended decades of military dictatorship.

Mr Sanusi said the money came from sales made between January 2012 and July 2013 by the state-owned Nigeria National Petroleum Corp that was not remitted to the treasury. It is unclear whether the money, at a rate of more than $1bn a month, is still being diverted.

Read more: Governor of Central Bank lifts lid on his country's endemic corruption

The campaign against Mr Sanusi, 52, has alarmed foreign investors, who have long seen him as a steady hand and bulwark against pervasive corruption in Africa’s top oil producer and second-largest economy.

Mr Sanusi is much more popular abroad than he is in at home. He has earned international plaudits during his tenure at the Central Bank, particularly for his efforts in 2009 to clean up a rotten banking sector, ousting several bank executives in the process. Investors also credit him with reigning in inflation and stabilising the Nigerian currency, the naira, and in 2011 he was named among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.

The presidential statement denies Mr Sanusi’s latest charges that the government is trying to bury the mystery of the missing petrodollars.

“In keeping with its avowed commitment to full transparency, openness and accountability in governmental affairs, the federal government has authorised the engagement of reputable international firms for the recommended forensic audit” of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp accounts, it says.

When he was re-elected in 2011, Jonathan promised to fight corruption that keeps an elite fabulously wealthy while the majority of Africa’s most populous nation of some 170 million people struggle to survive on less than $1 a day, according to UN statistics.

But now Mr Jonathan’s administration is seen as shielding the corrupt, most notably by the pardon issued by the President last year of the ex-Governor from his home state of Bayelsa, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, because he was “remorseful” after being convicted of money laundering. Alamieyeseigha’s properties and funds in the United States and Britain were seized as proceeds of corruption in recent years and he had jumped bail from Britain in 2005.

Previous investigations of missing public funds have ended without resolution. No one has been prosecuted for a fuel-subsidy scam uncovered in 2012, in which some $17bn was paid to companies for fuel that never was delivered.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?