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EXCLUSIVE: Tinubu’s Special Investigator, Jim Obazee Requests Over N2Billion From Central Bank Governor As Apex Bank Officials Raise Concerns

In the letter dated December 22, 2023, Obazee requested funds for surveillance, vetting, security, addressing black spots, monitoring hotels, and acquiring vehicles....CONTINUE READING

A letter addressed to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Yemi Cardoso, by the Chairman of the Special Investigative Committee, Jim Obazee, requesting N2 billion for various assignments has been exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters.

In the letter dated December 22, 2023, Obazee requested funds for surveillance, vetting, security, addressing black spots, monitoring hotels, and acquiring vehicles.

President Bola Tinubu appointed Obazee, a former chief executive officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, in July 2023 as the special investigator to investigate the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and related entities.

Obazee, who was fired by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017, investigated the CBN under the tenure of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

His investigation uncovered massive corruption in Nigeria’s apex bank and his recommendation led to former President Goodluck Jonathan’s suspension of Sanusi in February 2014.

Obazee reports directly to the President.

In his appointment letter dated July 28, 2023, President Tinubu said Obazee would also work on a comprehensive report on public wealth currently in the hands of corrupt individuals and establishments.

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Part of his job schedule is to strengthen key Government Business Entities (GBEs), block leakages in CBN and related GBEs and provide a comprehensive report on public wealth currently in the hands of corrupt individuals and establishments.

Meanwhile, Obazee’s letter to the CBN governor, Olayemi Cardoso, reads in part: ”Please refer to our meeting with Mr President (with the Attorney General of the Federation and Honourable Minister of Justice in attendance) on 20th December 2023 wherein Mr President directed that I forward my invoice, so far, to you on the ongoing investigation that I am leading.”

Obazee asked for N750,000,000 for ”information sourcing, facts finding, synthesis and vetting.”

The Special Investigator asked for N800,000,000 for ”surveillance, black sites, private security and prying eyes.”

For ”logistics, outstation and team funding,” Obazee demanded N550,000,000.

He also demanded N35,000,000 for ”consumables, etc”. The total amount of money requested by the Special Investigator was N2,135,000,000, which was to be paid into a Premium Trust account number – 0010080287.

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Concerned CBN officials shared a copy of the letter with SaharaReporters and questioned the rationale behind the request when the apex bank had already provided for such activities.

One official said, ”The duplication of efforts raises concerns about potential redundancy and misallocation of resources.”

He added, ”Moreover, there is uncertainty regarding Jim Obazee’s authority to conduct surveillance and investigations, particularly if he needs the credentials of a spy or professional investigator.

”The lack of clarity on the approval process for these tasks and fund allocation is already causing confusion, raising questions about who authorized these activities and why.

”Transparency is urgently needed regarding the transactions being vetted and the beneficiaries being monitored.

”Without clear explanations, suspicions will arise about the potential misuse of information and the possibility of the Obazee-led committee employing blackmail tactics.”

Another official accused the Obazee-led committee of being indicted for tapping the telephone conversations of highly placed Nigerians. Hence, the source noted that the apex bank is careful in dealing with the panel.

”The unauthorized tapping of telephone conversations of high-ranking officials, including the Attorney General of the Federation and the Inspector General of Police is known to us, and it raises serious legal and ethical questions about privacy rights and abuse of power.

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”We are also aware that some CBN staff members are providing information to Obazee on every transaction of current governments and governors that he is using as a blackmailing tool.

”We want the committee to explain the rationale behind the request and clarify the processes involved in approving such allocations.

”Additionally, the CBN is keen to ensure that any fund disbursements are under presidential orders and have received proper board approval.

”It is also essential to ensure that the allocated amount is within the approved budget and that funds are used appropriately and accountably.”

SaharaReporters further gathered that there are concerns about the storage of investigation documents in Obazee’s Lagos home.

A member of the panel said, ”As I speak to you, there is vital national information and top secrets in Obazee’s home.

”This could trigger potential breaches of national security and confidentiality.”