Please note that as I fade slightly from view for my summer writing retreat (the fourth Sam Plank novel is nearing completion), for the next month I will blog once a week only, instead of the usual twice. Back to normal in the second half of August.
On 25 June 2016, Nigerian media group Vanguard published an interview that it had held with Ibrahim Magu, chairman of the country’s famed Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. In this interview, Magu fired a shot across the bows of naughty officials (“I don’t care whether you’re black or white or you come from party A or party B… even [if you’re] right here in the EFCC”), saying “there is no sacred cow as far as this fight against corruption is concerned – we will go after anybody who has committed an offence”. He then turned his fire on private banking, claiming that this is a popular sector for top politicians looking to launder stolen public money: “We had a discussion with the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and I insisted that this so-called private banking should be stopped. It is illegal. It is wrong.” And then it got personal: “Now we are going to go after the banks and the personnel used to perpetrate the fraud. It takes two to tango. In fact, very soon you will see us going after the Managing Directors of the banks… These people have given a lot of room for the money laundering activities to thrive.”
The last time bankers in Nigeria were given such a hard time was under the regime of former Central Bank of Nigeria governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (now the Emir of Kano and known as Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II), who sent several bank MDs to court on charges of fraud and dismissed a couple of bank boards. Unfortunately Sanusi was fired from the CBN by then president Goodluck Jonathan after he – Sanusi – went public with allegations that $20 billion had gone missing from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the watch of (now former) Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke. On 2 October 2015, Ms Alison-Madueke was arrested by the National Crime Agency in London on suspicion of bribery and corruption. I’m just saying. Magu had better hope that he has friends in higher places than the bankers he is targeting.