President Bola Tinubu has appointed Jim Obazee, Chief Executive Officer, Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), as special Investigator. He will be expected to carry out a comprehensive forensic audit on activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and other key Government Business Entities (GBEs).
By Ovie Edomi
Presidency source noted that President Tinubu plans to use the investigation of CBN as a decoy to further expose the corruption perpetrated over time by NNPCL and others who may be probed soonest.
In a letter dated July 28, Tinubu appointed the chief executive of Nigeria’s Financial Reporting Council as special investigator of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other government-owned entities.
The letter reads, “You are to investigate the CBN and related entities using a suitably experienced, competent and capable team and work with relevant security and anti-corruption agencies to deliver on this assignment.”
The investigator was to “provide a comprehensive report on public wealth currently in the hands of corrupt individuals and establishments.”
The letter confirming the appointment of Obazee further stated “the full terms of your engagement as Special Investigator shall be communicated to you in due course but, require that you immediately take steps to ensure the strengthening and probity of key Government Business Entities (GBEs), further block leakages in CBN and related GBEs and provide a comprehensive report on public wealth currently in the hands of corrupt individuals and establishments (whether private or public).”
This Reporter gathered that Obazee in his capacity as a special investigator will directly report to the President Tinubu. It would be recalled that Mele Kyari, Group CEO, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPCL), has been enmeshed in several allegations of corruptions.
In April 2023, an online platform published an article alleging that Kyari and the Chief Financial Officer of the corporation had paid themselves billions of naira as gratuity despite still being in service. However, NNPC Limited later released a statement distancing Kyari from the claims, stating that they were false.
lt would be recalled that Jim Obazee, a thorough forensic expert, during his tenure as the head of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), Obazee made several controversial decisions:
For instance in February 2014, the FRC, under Obazee’s leadership, recommended the sack of former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, a development which sparked controversy at the time. Also, the FRC, under Obazee, mandated non profit organizations, including churches and mosques, to comply with the corporate governance code. This included a stipulation that heads of such entities should have a term limit of 20 years. A decision that led to Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), appointing a National Overseer for the RCCG, Joshua Obayemi, as Adeboye had already spent over 20 years as the head of the church.
In October 2015, the FRC, under Obazee, suspended Atedo Peterside as the chairman of Stanbic IBTC and other senior management officials, including the Group Managing Director and Chief finance officer. This action was taken due to infractions in the 2013-14 financial statements of the bank.
Obazee was later sacked in January 2017, by former President Muhammadu Buhari. Time will tell what this new task will turn out to be.