President Bola Tinubu has appointed the former Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), Jim Obazee as the Special Investigator of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other related entities.
R elated entities to CBN are Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL PLC), NIRSAL MFB, Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), Bank of Industry (BoI), Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Nigerian Security, Printing and Minting Company, (NSPMC), Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Infrastructure Company of Nigeria (INFRACO), Nigerian Commodity Exchange (NCX) and Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN).
In the letter personally signed by the President and dated July 28, 2023, Jim Obazee will also, investigate other key Government Business Entities (GBEs) including Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPCL), National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Nigeria Gas Company Limited, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) and others.
Obazee whose appointment is rooted in section 15(5) of the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, is expected to block the leakages in CBN and others, and, provide a comprehensive report on public wealth currently in the hands of corrupt individuals and establishments (whether private or public) to the president.
The letter reads: “By the fundamental objective outlined in Section 15(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), this administration is, today, continuing the fight against corruption by appointing you as a Special Investigator, to investigate the CBN and Related Entities. This appointment shall be with immediate effect and you are to report directly to my office”.
“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).
“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. I shall expect a weekly briefing on the progress being made.
“Find attached, herewith, my directive suspending the Governor of the CBN from office with effect from 9th June 2023.”
With this appointment, Obazee who led the team of experts constituted by the Department of State Security (DSS) that began the investigation of the banking industry in December 2022, is now to continue the exercise as well as reorganise the Money House which many believed has strayed from its core functions.
Obazee, who was removed from the FRC in controversial circumstances in January 2017 by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, is now back to lead in resetting the wobbling Nigerian economy and, again, help to make the country, the destination for foreign investments.
Aged 58, Obazee was removed from the FRC for opening the books of the telecom giant, MTN and exposing the multi-billion-dollar scandal that later led to the sanctioning of the firm and four banks in the country.
The four banks, Citibank, the then Diamond Bank, Stanbic IBTC Nigeria and Standard Chartered Bank, were fined N5.87 billion by the CBN for using fake Certificate of Capital Importation (CCI) to illegally repatriate billions of dollars. The apex bank also wrote to MTN, asking it to refund $ 8 billion.
The ex-FRC boss who also performed the role of the Economic Adviser to President Buhari in 2016 until his forceful removal in January 2017, is now back to familiar terrain with a bigger task to rebuild the apex bank, and other government business entities, plug the leakages in the economy, stop the bleeding and recover the loots by corrupt government officials, their private-sector collaborators and the financial services sector especially.
Obazee will work with relevant security agencies to deliver on the work while all the top management officials of the key entities affected are to report to Obazee as he begins the task of rebuilding the CBN and others.
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It would be recalled that his investigation of the CBN in 2014 led to the suspension and the removal of the former governor of the apex bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
Feelers from the banking industry show the CBN and the other entities are currently enmeshed in politics and have deviated from their traditional roles. For instance, the apex bank, according to bank executives is allegedly, uncontrollable, as they lamented the Banks And Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2020 that ceded enormous powers to the CBN governor.
Obazee is expected to correct the anomalies and return the entities to their assigned roles and statutory functions.
Obazee while at the FRC undertook major investigations that included that of the Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, and Access Bank. It was on record that the investigation on the Bank of Industry (BoI) led to the recovery of several assets of the development institution worth several billions of Naira that were stolen by its former managers.
Insights from these investigations while at the FRC, the premier regulatory body in Nigeria, and the regulator of financial statements, are expected to bear on his new role which is specifically to dig to the roots of the rots in the CBN and others and also, reset the Nigerian economy that has made many poor, and also recover public funds that have been looted and hugely in the closet of the financial services sector.
Jimo, as he is called, is the first Executive Secretary of the FRC, and held this position from the inception of the Council on June 3, 2011, until January 9, 2017. In that capacity, he was responsible for the setting, monitoring and enforcement of financial reporting standards and Corporate Governance practices in both the Public and Private Sectors of the Nigerian economy.
The job included harmonising the activities of relevant professional and regulatory bodies in Nigeria. Jim, of the Edo state stock, before this appointment, was the Chief Executive Officer of Financial Reporting Advisory Professionals, a consulting firm that provides advice to public and private firms.
Obazee left the International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR) of the United Nations (UNCTAD-ISAR) as its 29th Chairman. ISAR is the only intergovernmental working group devoted to corporate transparency and accounting issues at the corporate level.
ISAR addresses a variety of issues in corporate accounting and reporting to improve the global comparability and reliability of corporate reports. He was a member of the United Nations Consultative Group on Accounting by Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and also of the United Nations Consultative Group on Compliance, Monitoring, and Enforcement.
At the National level, he was the Chairman of the National Committee on Roadmap to the Adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in Nigeria and the 2013 National Committee on “Top 100 Businesses” in Nigeria.
Obazee joined the Nigerian Accounting Standard Board (NASB) in 1993 where he rose to the position of the Chief Executive Officer of the NASB. This was after a brief stint as a lecturer at the University of Benin.
A graduate of Accounting from the University of Benin where he also had his Master’s in Accounting, he also has certification in Strategic Financial Analysis for Business Evaluation from Harvard University, USA, yo and was also on attachment to the Financial Accounting Standards Board, USA and the Accounting Standards Board, Canada.
Jim is a fellow of Nigeria’s Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAN) and also, a member of the American Accounting Association (AAA).
▪︎ Report by Inside Business.