By Ademola Bakare
The above titled article by Steve Ayorinde, the Vice President (West) of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and media consultant published on the back page of a daily newspaper of Thursday, June 4, 2015 makes an interesting read. One is curious that a renowned journalist of Ayorinde’s has not availed himself of the truth and details of the subject of his piece before putting pen to paper. Having followed the event since the CBN first issued a statement back in November 2014 informing the public of infractions in one of its branches, one found it easy to identify several innuendos and misinformation contained in the article. One would have expected the writer to dig deep into the matter and commend the proactive step taken by the apex Bank in detecting the operational infraction that occurred in its Ibadan branch.
Could Ayorinde have fail to read in-between the lines to see the malicious motive of the EFCC in the matter or could he have been commissioned to malign the monetary authority? His motive cannot be clearly understood as he clearly mixed up a lot of issues in the article. It would have helped his story if he actually confirmed the issues by seeking clarity from various security agencies.
As a seasoned journalist too, and a keen watcher of the CBN Ibadan branch incident, which I have been following since the Bank broke the news on November 11, 2014, the piece by Ayorinde leaves much to be desired. Ayorinde as trained to inform and educate should have diligently x-rayed the issue at hand objectively rather than embarking on what appears to be a destructive mission.
The CBN, I recalled, had in November last year informed Nigerians and the banking segment of the public of the infraction at its Ibadan branch operations. The statement issued then informed the public that “the Bank had invited relevant security agencies to investigate the matter with a view to identifying the cause of the breach and those behind the act. The statement further said that the management of the Bank had ordered the immediate suspension of all staff that was directly or remotely linked to the incident in order to ensure non-interference into the matter. As we have come to understand, the Bank upon conclusion of its investigation found some middle level officers in various degrees culpable. Some according to the Bank’s authority were summarily dismissed, while some were suspended indefinitely on October 21, 2014 pending further investigation by relevant security agencies. The indicted officials according to the Bank were handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.
It appears therefore wrong and malicious of Ayorinde and his ilk to create the impression that the perpetrators of the infraction were “top officials” of the Bank, and that the CBN did not do anything until a petition got to EFCC in November last year of how N8bn was cornered and discreetly recycled by top executives of the CBN Ibadan branch.
As someone who has been following the development, it must be emphasized that nobody but the management of the Bank reported the matter to the EFCC on November 3, 2014 and followed it up with a press release issued in November 11, 2014. One therefore wonders what the EFCC had been doing since the CBN handed over the matter to it. The more disturbing question then is that why did the agency wait till now to give the public the impression that ‘a staff from the Oshogbo branch of the CBN’ blew the whistle. Nigerians are no fools, and if Ayorinde was hired, like it appears, by the EFCC to launder its ‘dented’ image, it shouldn’t be at the expense of CBN’s integrity. The EFCC we know of late and under its current leadership had gone to sleep in carrying out its mandate. The same EFCC just suddenly woke after the inauguration of a new regime in Nigeria, giving the impression that it is working. Why did Ayorinde not ask the agency what it had been doing since October 2014 when the CBN handed over the case to it? The EFCC, through its dubious manipulation of the incident, waited for six months by fraudulently coming to the public to malign the institution and its management. It did not stop at that, the agency even manipulated the media in its twisted press briefing by its spokesperson and the press release he issued.
It is not my duty to defend the CBN, but it is quite laughable to accuse the CBN of sponsoring terrorism, particularly, the deadly Boko Haram insurgents without facts? Security agencies in the land have investigated the allegation as petitioned by an NGO – SERAP last year, and found no official of the Bank culpable. For Ayorinde to have advised the new regime to dig deep into the Bank activities to unravel the identity of the ‘supposed’ CBN official sponsoring Boko Haram insurgency, in my honest view, suggest that he cares less about his personal reputation as a writer.
As we all clamoured for change, Ayorinde should be advised not to be a willful tool in the manipulative mission of the EFCC. The leadership of the Agency is much aware of the impending sack and overhaul of the agency; it should therefore not use the CBN to launder its image nor seek to bring the institution to disrepute.
Ademola Bakare wrote in from Abuja.