LAST August the Central Bank of Nigeria sacked the management of five banks for running their banks aground. They were charged to court for various offences. The cases are still being prosecuted.
One of the areas that the directors allegedly infracted the law was unsecured loans. Billions of depositors funds, the CBN said, was wasted through loans the bank chief executives granted themselves or their companies.
Sharp divisions trailed the decision. The main objection was that the CBN was hasty and did not follow laid down laws on sacking bank managements. The CBN went all the way to London to defend itself and began a search for buyers of the affected banks.
The rash decision dealt the economy a devastating blow. Banks stopped lending and funding new projects, even existing investments were halted. The CBN kept propping up the banks as depositors fled.
Less than a year after the disruptions that followed,Â the CBNÂ has forgiven the offenders. This time there is no noise, no road shows and the silence of CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who defended the thoughtlessness is silent.
SanusiÂ personally signed the letters which read, â€œPlease, refer to my order dated 14 August 2009, directing your removal as an Executive Director of â€¦. bank. Following the said order, several representations were made to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for a review of the circumstances leading to your removal from office.
â€œThe management has duly considered these representations and wishes to state that your removal does not amount to being blacklisted by CBN. Accordingly, CBN hereby confirms that it has no objection to your seeking employment in the financial services sector subject to the express approval by CBN where required.
â€œHowever, it should be noted that the position stated above does not constitute a waiver of any action which CBN or any other agency of government may take against you should the on-going investigation in â€¦ bank reveal any serious misconduct or any infraction of extant laws or regulations.
â€œAll relevant agencies are being advised to release your travel documents or any property in their possessionâ€.
Why did the CBN not conclude its investigations before the decision that added to the woes of the troubled economy? Will CBN also stop the court cases about how the conduct of the officials made the banks valueless?
Sanusi cannot keep quiet at this critical moment. The CBN by the wholesale dismissal of the grave allegations it made has diminished its authority. The lame provision that the waiver would not stop further investigations adds to the insult.
Vanguard in a March 2009 story had stated that CBN would take over the management of five banks. When it finally made the decision five months after, it tried to dismiss our story.
If the officials are no longer blacklisted, will the CBN also return them to their jobs? When will it lift its siege on the banks? Will Sanusi resign for putting the banks in more danger than he met them? The recant has to be more profound.