The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has denied allegations that there are people using the Bank to fund the activities of Boko Haram.
This was disclosed in a letter dated 16 October 2014 and addressed to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
The letter with reference LSD/ACL/GEN/SRP/02/090 and signed by O.A. Ogundana on behalf of the Director, Legal Services Department of the Bank reads in part: “We write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 15th September 2014 on the subject captioned: request to provide information about alleged money laundering to Boko Haram through the Bank.”
“In your letter you had requested from the CBN information about persons or office involved in alleged money laundering activities of the Boko Haram through the CBN; and information on the exact nature and duration of any such transactions.”
“We wish to inform you that after investigating the allegations across various Departments at the Bank that deal with payments, the Bank could not find any information pertaining to persons involved in money laundering through the CBN to fund the activities of Boko Haram.”
“The CBN as Banker to the Federal Government only maintains accounts for and on behalf of the Government, its Ministries, Departments and Agencies; Deposit Money banks and other financial institutions in Nigeria and can only make payments on their behalf based on authorized mandates.”
“Consequently, the CBN does not maintain or operate any accounts for individuals, officers or offices within the Bank. In conclusion, your organization may wish to note that the Bank maintains a robust Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism framework to prevent the use of its platform for financial crimes. Please, accept the assurances of the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria.”
It would be recalled that following its freedom of information request, SERAP had on 14 October sued the CBN at the Federal High Court Ikoyi. The originating summons with suit number FHC/L/CS/1547/2014 was filed on behalf of the organization by Adetokunbo Mumuni.
Among others, SERAP is seeking the court to determine “Whether by virtue of the provision of section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the CBN is under an obligation to provide the plaintiff with the information requested for.”
According to SERAP, “a necessary implication of the rule of law is that a public functionary and institution can only act in accordance with law, as to do otherwise may enthrone arbitrariness. Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the constitution is a desideratum to good governance. In a democratic society, this is meant to be a norm; it is an apostasy for public institutions like the CBN to ignore the provisions of the law.”