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Senate summons CBN officials over N30tn loans

The Senate has said it will quiz some officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria on how the N30tn Ways and Means loan was obtained and spent by the Federal Government during the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

The Chairman of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee Senator Isah Jibrin, who made the disclosure in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, also revealed that the panel would commence the probe this week.

The Senate had on Tuesday appointed Jibrin as the chairman of the panel to probe the N30tn Ways and Means loan released by the then CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to the Buhari administration.

The ‘Ways and Means’ is an overdraft taken directly from the central bank to fund budget deficits or address national contingency needs. This usually follows the approval of the executive arm of government and is meant to be ratified by the parliament.

The Senate had last week Tuesday resolved to probe the N30tn facility,  stating that the alleged reckless spending of the overdraft collected from the CBN largely accounted for the food and security crises currently facing the country.

The red chamber then resolved to set up an Ad -hoc committee to investigate how the fund was spent, explaining that the details of how it was spent were deliberately not made available to the National Assembly.

However, the chairman of the panel, also known as Echocho, said the panel had started some background checks based on some documents in its possession.

In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH on Thursday, he said, “We are looking at next week for the investigation at the committee level, but as chairman, I am not waiting for that. I have some documents; I want to write to CBN to provide me with information on some areas.

“Because Ways and means cover very large latitude, so based on the information that I have now, I am going to write to seek clarifications on certain issues thereafter the committee will meet.

He added that the Ways and Means loan also came up in December 2022 towards the end of the ninth Senate.

Senator added, “I have some documents and I want to leverage on those documents by going through them to ask questions from the CBN to seek further clarifications. Thereafter, we will now invite CBN officials who were engaged under Emefiele, although he is no longer there.

“They were a part of it, they have to come and explain to us. The terms of reference are very simple.

“These monies were given out. We want to know the agencies that benefited from those monies.

“We also want to know the individual Nigerians who benefited. We want to know the terms and conditions. The CBN is not Father Christmas. They are loans; we want to know the beneficiaries of those loans.

“What are the terms and conditions of those loans? What are the collaterals collected to fall back on when there is a default? Have they been repaid? What are the repayment schedules? In case of default do we have collateral? So those are the issues, we are not witch-hunting anybody.”

He further explained, “This country belongs to all of us, we want to know what actually transpired because we are where we are today because of those reckless exercises.

“I will call it reckless because when you are taking a decision as an economist because I want to believe, we have economists there when you take a particular decision, you should be able to ascertain the possible impact of that decision on the larger community.

“You either withdraw or you modify, that is why I am happy that the Monetary Policy Committee has been composed. You know the composition of the MPC is crucial because that is where policy measures are taken. You need to look at it, if this variable is this, and the state of the economy is XYZ, what do you do?

“How do you tinker with some of those variables so that the larger society will improve? That is why we want to unravel all that happened not to witch-hunt anybody but to know the extent to which Ways and means advances have been performed and then other decisions can be taken thereafter.”

It is unclear if the committee will also eventually summon Emefiele as the probe deepens.


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