Human rights activist and senior lawyer Chief Femi Falana was given two options by Professor Charles Soludo recently. The two options were to either apologise or back up with facts Falana’s claim that Soludo doled out $7b from Nigeria’s Foreign Reserves to 14 banks when Soludo was still the governor of Central Bank.
Soludo respond to Falana’s allegation, saying there was no such thing, and that he was only reacting to the elite lawyer’s claim because of his deep respect for Falana.
On Sunday, Falana released a statement, quoting the sources of his allegation and added that he commented from the facts available to him. Mr Falana asked Soludo to direct his demand for apology to one Mr Festus Odoko, then Head of Corporate Affairs in CBN, who was quoted as saying, “deposits worth $7 billion representing the apex bank’s share of the foreign reserves estimated at about $38 billion has been released to the consortium of bankers.” By The Guardian newspaper of 5/10/2006.
Below is Falana’s full response:
On October 3, 2006, the Central Bank of Nigeria under the management of Professor Chukwuma Soludo gave a loan of $7 billion to 14 commercial banks in Nigeria. The loan was confirmed by the Head of the CBN Corporate Affairs , Mr. Festus Odoko when he announced that “deposits worth $7 billion representing the apex bank’s share of the foreign reserves estimated at about $38 billion has been released to the consortium of bankers.” (The Guardian newspaper of 5/10/2006)
Barely four days later, a respected economist, Mr. Henry Boyo challenged the illegal claim that the $7 billion was a “share” of the CBN in the nation’s foreign reserves. Since the funds belong to the three tiers of Government by virtue of section 162 of the Constitution Mr. Boyo rightly stated that “the Senate and the House of Representatives would have defaulted in their constitutional duties if CBN is not invited to defend why $7 billion of our reserves should be ‘given’ to 14 banks without oversight approval.” (Vanguard newspaper of October 9, 2006).
Having confirmed that the banks have failed to liquidate the said $7 billion loan I have asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate the illegality of the loan and recover same together with other huge funds which have been criminally diverted or withheld from the Federation Account. With respect, the denial of the $7 billion loan by Professor Soludo has supported the request for a thorough investigation of the allegations contained in my petition. However, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the controversial loan, Professor Soludo may wish to direct his demand for apology to Mr. Festus Odoko!