Mr. Joseph Onu Silas a human rights lawyer and activist, has written the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) seeking the cancellation of the purchase of gold worth 5 billion Naira from the Zamfara govt by the bank.
Silas, in a letter addressed to the CBN Governor, Godwin Omiefele, sighted by TheNigeriaLawyer (TNL), said he is surprised by such action taken by the bank. He described the purchase as “illegal” and a waste of “scarce public funds”
“I am worried that Central Bank of Nigeria under your leadership is tending towards becoming a commercial bank and even more worrisome is that the Central Bank of Nigeria has acted in total disregard of Nigerian laws and has displayed its penchant to waste scarce public fund in the placement of this illegal gold purchase order from Zamfara govt,” he said
The human rights lawyer said section 1(4) of the CBN Act, 2007 which permits the bank to acquire, hold and dispose of movable and immovable property does not extend to engaging in a business venture such as the purchase of gold neither does section 2 of the Act which sets out objectives of the bank include “commerce or trading in gold”
He added that the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 makes it clear in section 1(1) and (2) that: (1) the entire property in and control of all mineral resources in, under or upon any land in Nigeria, its contiguous continental shelf and all rivers, streams, and watercourses throughout Nigeria, any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone is and shall be vested in the Government of the Federation for and on behalf of the people of Nigeria. (2) All lands in which minerals have been found in commercial quantities shall, from the commencement of this Act be acquired by the Government of the Federation in accordance with the provisions of the Land Use Act
“Sir, by sealing this deal with the Zamfara govt, are you admitting that as the head of Nigeria’s apex Bank, you are unaware of the laws of this nation?” Silas queried
He continued, “I ask this question simply because the news of your action is only possible if the Southern States of this nation can also enjoy such offers from the Central Bank for the purchase of petroleum products.”
Furthermore, Silas said such purchase is “the highest insult on the sensitivities of Nigerians” because the Zamfara govt has no gold to sell, the gold is for the federal government, and CBN is not permitted by its enabling Act to engage in the business of buying goods that are solely commercial in nature
Silas again queried, “Also, are you aware that this singular indiscreet action of yours is capable of throwing this nation’s fragile security into chaos? What will be your response to people from the Southern States if they now begin to insist that all the Mineral resources found within their respective States does not belong to the Federal government and opts to begin selling them directly to anyone?”
He called on the CBN governor to cancel the transaction immediately or face legal action.
“with all patriotic zeal and love for this nation, I am urging you to immediately rescind this transaction as it is not only illegal but also potentially dangerous for the peace and security of our nation. I am not against the CBN providing financial support for the development of Nigeria ln mining Sector, but this is not such support. If this illegality is not discontinued immediately, I will be compelled to Institute a criminal complaint against the Management of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the officials of the Zamfara govt, in addition to a civil action in court.” he announced. Here