Show us the money: Court gives CBN 72hrs to account for Cecilia Ibru’s assets

by Isi Esene

Justice Mohammed Idris of the Lagos Federal High Court yesterday ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reveal the whereabouts of the N191bn assets recovered from Cecilia Ibru, former managing director of Ocean Bank Plc.

According to reports, Justice Idris gave the CBN management a 3-day ultimatum to comply with the Court’s directive.

Boniface Okezie, President of Progressive Shareholders Association, had approached the court seeking its order to compel the CBN to release the information under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

Justice Idris also ordered the CBN to supply it with the exact monetary value of the assets retrieved from Ibru and how much of it was returned to the shareholders of Oceanic Bank.

He ordered the Apex bank to declare “the whereabouts of the money recovered from Cecilia Ibru; and what part of this cash and properties had been returned to Oceanic Bank and/or its shareholders.

“What is done officially must be done according to the law,” the judge held.

The judge however declined the request of the Plaintiff praying the court to compel the CBN to also release  information on the cost of its banking reform and the “amount of legal fees and other fees paid to professionals and professional bodies”.

The judge declined the prayer citing section 15 (1) of the FoI Act and the “legal practitioner-client privilege” as contained in section 16 of the Act.

Okezie, had through his counsel, Chuks Nwachukwu, requested the information in a letter dated January 26, 2012.

In the letter, Okezie stated that he had observed that the two law firms of Olaniwun Ajayi LP and Kola Awodein “have completely dominated representation of CBN and its related bodies in the litigation sparked by the reforms.”

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