Nigeria seizes ousted bank boss’s passport

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iol pic afr sanusi. AFP File - Ousted Nigeria's Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi. Picture: ERIC PIERMONT

Abuja - Nigerian intelligence agents seized the passport of ousted central bank boss Lamido Sanusi when he landed at Lagos airport, Nasir el Rufai, a close Sanusi ally told AFP on Friday.

Rufai, a former cabinet minister who is now a prominent opposition politician, said he was at the airport to meet Sanusi when his flight from Niger's capital Niamey landed at 2.30pm (13.30 GMT) on Thursday.

“He went through immigration and the (Directorate of State Services, DSS) people that were there stopped him,” Rufai said. They then told Sanusi “that he could leave the terminal building... but that they have instruction from Abuja to hold on to his passport.”

“I spoke with (Sanusi) this morning and there is no indication that the passport has been returned,” Rufai further said.

The front page of the prominent This Day newspaper on Friday also reported that Sanusi's passport had been detained by the DSS, citing anonymous security sources.

DSS spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar could be immediately reached for comment.

Sanusi, whose term at the central bank was due to expire in June, was suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday over alleged financial recklessness.

He had become a prominent critic of government corruption and has accused the powerful state oil company of misappropriating $20 billion (14.5 billion euros).

Sanusi's job performance was widely applauded by economists within Nigeria and abroad, notably for overhauling a banking sector riddled with corruption.

Analysts said Jonathan, widely thought to be preparing a re-election bid, may have removed Sanusi to silence a powerful critic who was committed to exposing the looting of public funds by political heavyweights.

Sanusi had been in Niger attending a regional central bank meeting when learned of his suspension.

He has said that the allegations of misconduct levelled against him were baseless. - AFP

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