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Buhari’s Billionaire Ex-Aide And Nephew, Tunde Sabiu Told Emefiele To Redesign Naira Notes; CBN Board Not Involved – Special Investigator

The immediate former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele awarded N61.5 billion for the printing of ill-fated new naira notes to a United Kingdom company, De La Rue in flagrant violation of President Muhammadu Buhari's directive that it should be given to a domestic firm.

This revelation is contained in the report of President Bola Tinubu's Special Investigator on the CBN and Related Entities, Jim Obaze.

The report indicated that the Board of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was not involved in the decision to redesign the new currency notes, adding that the initiative was suggested to former CBN Governor by Buhari's aide, Tunde Sabiu during his visit to the Presidential Villa in September 2022.

Worse still, Emefiele, according to the report left behind a debt of over N30 billion incurred for the printing of the currency as only N31.79 billion of the contract sum had been paid at the time of his leaving the office.

SaharaReporters had reported the President appointed a Special Investigator to probe the apex bank after the suspension of Emefiele as Governor of the CBN on June 9, 2023. 

The former CBN was later arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) after he was suspended by President Tinubu.

However, the secret police later handed him over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).  Subsequently, he was arraigned on six counts bordering on alleged N1.6 billion procurement fraud on November 17.

However, the report of the special investigator submitted to President Tinubu on December 20, 2023, has exposed mismanagement, fraud and arbitrariness in the management of the apex bank with trillions of naira in losses under Emefiele’s leadership.

The report noted that after the idea was sold to Emefiele by Sabiu, he immediately wrote a memo to President Buhari, seeking approval to embark on the redesign of N1000, N500 and N200 notes in October 2022.

The proposal was, however, approved the same day, with the proviso that the new naira notes should be printed locally. 

But contrary to the instruction of the President, Emefiele awarded the contract to a UK firm, De La Rue with N61.5 billion incurred by the apex bank as the cost of the printing. 

“The former President tagged along but did not approve the redesign as required by law. Buhari merely approved that the currency be printed in Nigeria. The redesign was only mentioned to the board of the CBN on December 15, 2022, after Emefiele had awarded the contract to the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc on October 31, 2022,’’ the documents noted.

Emefiele was said to have contracted the redesign of the naira to De La Rue of the UK for £205,000 pounds under the vote head of the Currency Operations Department after the NSPM said it could not deliver the contract within a short timeframe.

As of August 9, 2023, findings revealed that N769 billion of the new notes were in circulation.

SaharaReporters reported in April that Sabiu ‘Tunde’ Yusuf, the then-personal secretary to President Buhari who is in his 30s, was set to retire with huge retirement benefits from loot said to run into billions of dollars.

And to ensure he enjoyed his loot, SaharaReporters learnt that Tunde Sabiu secured a form of diplomatic immunity from prosecution through his appointment to the National Intelligence Agency, according to sources in the Presidency.

Regarded as one of the wealthiest young men in Nigeria today, Yusuf until his appointment by President Buhari was said to be surviving on proceeds made from the sale of call cards in his native Daura, a sleepy community in Katsina State in the Northern part of the country, which is also the President’s hometown.

He is said to have gotten the name ‘Tunde’ after being likened to the late Tunde Idiagbon, Buhari’s second in command during his military regime in the early 1980s. Idiagbon was seen by many Nigerians as the de facto leader even though Buhari was the head of state. He was known to be powerful and strategic.

Yusuf is the son of Mamman Daura’s immediate younger sister, Hajia Halima, who died in 2018.

“To ensure he doesn’t get arrested by the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), Tunde Idiagbon, as he’s popularly known has secured diplomatic immunity by his irregular appoint into Nigeria’s intelligence agency known as NIA and he’s already been transferred to the United Kingdom as his first foreign posting to manage his loot,” a source in the Presidency had told SaharaReporters.

Also, according to sources in the Presidency, Yusuf spent $100 million to help Kano-born oil billionaire Alhaji Auwalu Abdullahi Rano, the executive chairman and CEO of holding company A. A. Rano Group, start Rano Air.

Rano Air is a licensed airline, incorporated in 2021 with its operational base in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. When it started, it proposed to operate in Nigeria and beyond but started with eight local stations - Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Kaduna, Yola and Asaba.

Tunde Sabiu is said to be the proud owner of several mansions in Abuja.

“He recently shelled out $100 million to help start an airline known as Rano Air according to sources in the presidency and massively invested in fuel stations across Nigeria through the same outfit, Rano Oil,” one of the sources had said.

Sources said Buhari’s nephew once had several accounts opened that house billions of naira in Nigeria.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele reportedly got him to reinvest the funds into three new banks,” one of the sources added at the time when Emefiele was still the CBN governor.

During Buhari’s 77th birthday in December 2019, Yusuf reportedly wore a Patek Phillipe leather wristwatch valued at $99,995.00 – about N36 million at the time.

In June 2020, investigations by SaharaReporters indicated that a Senior Special Assistant to the President (Domestic), Abba Sarki and Yusuf, in collaboration with some Ministry of Power officials had pushed the government to commit to the purchase of a building for the Transmission Company of Nigeria at a grossly inflated price in Abuja.

Despite the Ministry of Works and Housing not approving the purchase of the building, Sarki and Tunde had pushed their cronies in the Ministry of Power further to actualise the purchase of the property for around N14bn to N17bn – a rate many times higher than the original cost of the building.

The plan, according to findings by SaharaReporters, was to in the end give the presidential aides access to the funds and thereafter give part of the funds to other partakers in the fraudulent scheme before pocketing the rest.

A top source at the Ministry of Power privy to the corrupt scheme gave more insights, saying, “This building is being pushed by Abba Sarki, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Domestic) and Sabiu ‘Tunde’ Yusuf for Transmission Company of Nigeria.

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