President Bola Tinubu has appointed Jim Obazee as a Special Investigator to probe the activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria and other related entities.
In a letter dated 28 July, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Tinubu said the appointment of Mr Obazee, relying on the fundamental objective set forth in Section 15(5) of the Nigerian constitution, was in furtherance of his administration’s anti-corruption fight.
The appointment is with immediate effect and Mr Obazee is to report directly to the president.
According to the letter signed by the president, the full terms of Mr Obazee’s engagement as a special investigator will be communicated to him in due course.
Mr Obazee was the chief executive officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) before he was fired in 2017.
President Tinubu specifically directed Mr Obazee to take immediate steps to ensure the strengthening and probity of key Government Business Entities (GBEs) and block leakages in the CBN and related GBEs.
He also directed the special investigator to provide a comprehensive report on public wealth currently in the hands of corrupt individuals and establishments (whether private or public).
Also, the president directed Mr Obazee to investigate the CBN and related entities using a suitably experienced, competent and capable team and to work with relevant security and anti-corruption agencies to deliver on the assignment.
Mr Obazee is expected to brief the president weekly on the progress being made concerning the assignment.
In the letter, President Tinubu directed Mr Obazee’s attention to his directive to suspend the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, on 9 June.
The suspended CBN boss was arrested in his Lagos home by operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) a day after his suspension by Mr Tinubu. He was then flown to Abuja.
The SSS is prosecuting him for possession of an unregistered firearm and the Federal High Court in Abuja granted him bail last week.
The SSS, shortly after the bail was granted, re-arrested him on the court premises leading to an altercation between some officers of the security service and that of the Nigerian Correctional Centre who attempted to detain him until he meets his bail conditions, as directed by the court.
The secret service is yet to publicly state the reason Mr Emefiele is still being detained despite being granted bail by the court.
Who is Obazee?
Jim Obazee was the pioneer executive secretary and chief executive officer of the FRCN from its inception on 3 June 2011 until 9 January 2017, when he was sacked by former President Muhammadu Buhari.
The position of the CEO of the council is for four years, though it can be renewed for another term by the President.
As the CEO of the council, Mr Obazee was responsible for setting, monitoring and enforcing financial reporting standards and Corporate Governance Practices in both public and private sectors of the economy.
Part of his official brief was to harmonise all the roles of professional and regulatory bodies in Nigeria.
Little was known about the council until 2014 when his recommendation led then-President Goodluck Jonathan to suspend the then-CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi. Before the sacking, Mr Sanusi had accused the Jonathan administration of massive financial malpractice relating to the alleged misappropriation of remittances from the NNPC.
Mr Obazee is a graduate of accounting from the University of Benin with a Master’s degree in the same course from the University of Lagos.
He also, in his capacity as the CEO of FRC in 2015, suspended from the FRC, Atedo Peterside, chairperson of Stanbic IBTC, for allegedly breaching the council’s reporting rules.
The implication of Mr Peterside’s suspension from the FRC was that he would be unable to append his signatures to all the financial reports of the bank during the period of the suspension.
The council mentioned some alleged infractions in the 2013-2014 financial statements of the bank as the reason for its decision. It directed the bank to reissue its 2013 financial statements and also imposed a fine of N1 billion on the bank.
Apart from Mr Peterside, the council also suspended Sola David-Borgha then MD of the bank, from the FRC. The bank later sued the Council, which eventually lifted the suspension in 2016.
A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria(ICAN), Mr Obazee’s effort to ensure compliance with a corporate governance code of the FRC stipulating 20 years for heads of not-for-profit organisations controversially forced the then General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Enoch Adeboye, to step down from the position.
Mr Adeboye, however, appointed himself the global overseer of the church while he appointed Joshua Obayemi as the overseer of the church in Nigeria. A few days after ensuring compliance with the order, Mr Buhari fired Mr Obazee from office.
Aside from his membership in ICAN, Mr Obazee is also a member of the Nigeria Institute of Management and the American Accounting Association. He has a certificate in strategic financial analysis for business evaluation from Harvard University, USA.
His new assignment from Mr Tinubu will be the second time he will take on the CBN, though in a different circumstance.
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