Nigeria suspends central bank chief after missing oil claims

Oil Barrels

Nigeria's president on Thursday suspended the governor of the country's central bank for "financial misconduct" and said his tenure was "characterised by various acts of financial recklessness"

Governor Lamido Sanusi is widely respected after undertaking reforms to the banking sector since his appointment in 2009 and was named central bank governor of the year for 2010 by Banker magazine.

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He has been a vocal critic of the government's track record in tackling corruption. Recently he alleged that $20 billion in oil revenue had gone missing and wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan to question the shortcomings.

Nigeria's state oil firm has denied failing to account for the money, saying the claim was "unsubstantiated".

Sanusi, who was out of the country, said he was unaware of what the president's office was referring to and questioned the legality of his dismissal.

"I don't know what they are talking about. When I come back I will see what those allegations are," he told CNBC.

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"There is also the legal question of (the) president, who does not have the legal authority to remove the central bank governor. Even if I challenged it - I will not go back to the job, but I think it would be in the interest of the institution for the court check if the president has the power," he said.

Sanusi said he hoped the news would not damage the Nigerian economy, as the bond market closed unexpectedly and the Nigerian naira spiked to 169 to the dollar.

"I also hope the position of the central bank will be protected. I have been fortunate to do some good work on the banks in terms of stability, I would not want to see all of that unravelled," he said.

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Commenting on his replacement, his deputy Sarah Alade, he said:

"I think she is a very competent person, I have every confidence in her, I am very happy for her. Like I said I have no regrets, no ill feelings. I am happy and proud of what I have done," he said.

-By CNBC's Jenny Cosgrave: Follow her on Twitter @jenny_cosgrave

image: © L.C. Nøttaasen

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