Probe of CBN Loan Disbursement and Repayment Spreads to Top Bank Officials and Companies
In a far-reaching investigation, the special panel led by Jim Obazee, appointed by President Bola Tinubu to scrutinize and reform the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has extended its scrutiny to companies and institutions affiliated with senior officials at the apex bank, including its board members.
Reports emerging from this probe suggest that several of these entities were allegedly used as channels for anchor borrowers’ loans and foreign exchange transactions, raising questions about financial improprieties within the CBN.
According to sources cited in the Daily Sun, as the investigation progresses, individuals with close ties to high-ranking CBN officials are reportedly growing increasingly uneasy. Security operatives and investigators have reportedly been picking up these individuals for questioning, leaving them in a state of apprehension.
The urgency of the situation is further amplified by the fact that the presidential deadline for loan recovery is set to expire today, September 18, 2023. With the deadline looming, a sense of uncertainty prevails as to the next course of action by the presidency.
Amidst the anxiety, some genuine farmers who received funds through the anchor borrowers’ facility have cited natural disasters and the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for their inability to repay the loans.
In addition to these challenges, there are allegations of funds diversion, implicating CBN officials and other stakeholders who are accused of politicizing an initiative that was designed to address Nigeria’s food insufficiency challenges.
A source familiar with the matter emphasized, “Let us be clear, this is not a witch-hunt but a call to restore the dignity of the apex bank. No one is exempt from scrutiny. There are pressing concerns regarding anchor borrowers’ facilities and foreign exchange activities. Billions were disbursed, but questions linger over the whereabouts of these funds.”
The source continued, “As we delve deeper into this matter, if you are implicated, you will be summoned. The Department of State Services (DSS) is collaborating closely with the panel to ensure a thorough investigation.”
The anchor borrowers’ loans, which amount to over N1.1 trillion, were originally facilitated during the tenure of the now-ousted CBN management. However, it has come to light that limited efforts were made to recover these loans.
Out of the N1.1 trillion disbursed by the CBN to beneficiaries of the Anchor Borrowers’ Program (ABP), only slightly above N546 billion has been repaid. This alarming discrepancy has stirred President Tinubu into action, who has ordered the recovery of the outstanding N577 billion from defaulting farmers, CBN officials, and their associates who allegedly diverted the funds for personal ventures.
The investigation aims not only to ensure the recovery of these substantial funds but also to instill accountability and transparency in the country’s financial institutions. As the probe continues, it has become evident that no one will be shielded from scrutiny, as the pursuit of truth and justice takes center stage.