by Dare Lawal
“Twenty minutes to midnight on February 25, 2013, and a day before the board of the Central Bank of Nigeria was due to meet, Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi developed a craving for romance—he badly needed a kiss.
“The governor, married with children, grabbed his mobile phone and typed out a message. “Maybe you should come kiss me before board meeting tomorrow,” Mr Sanusi wrote and then squeezed the send button.
“At about 9 a.m. the next day, Mrs. Maryam Yaro, a married mother of two, an Assistant Director and subordinate to the governor at the CBN, arrived at Sanusi’s unnamed Abuja hotel, seeking to keep the date and help address his boss’ craving for a kiss. (Insiders say board members, including those who live in Abuja, are usually lodged in hotels ahead of board meetings).”
That was how online newspaper, Premium Times began their exclusive piece on the CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, which they had publicised before hand.
The story went on to level allegations against the CBN governor, which the paper said was the result of detailed investigations.
It mentioned how few days after that board meeting referred to above, Sanusi and his love interest, Mrs. Yaro agreed to meet in Lagos a few days later where they spent the rest of the weekend together.
The paper alleged that Sanusi and Yaro lodged in hotels, missed working hours, and Sanusi travelled in chattered flights at the expense of taxpayers.
After that weekend’s rendezvous, this communication ensued between Sanusi and Yaro, according to the report.
“…I had such a wonderful weekend,” Mrs. Yaro confessed to the governor while aboard her Abuja-bound flight. “You have revived in me what I thought I lost long ago. I thought I lost the passion to love again,” she claimed.
“Alhamdulillahi. Love you,” Mr. Sanusi responded in a measured tone.
The details of that conversation shows that whoever spoke to Premium Times about the incident was likely part of the travelling party, maybe an aide.
The report quoted several unnamed sources describing the governor as “the most morally bankrupt governor the CBN has ever had”, “a shameless man of loose character”, and an “incurable womanizer.”
The accusations wouldn’t be much of a public issue if not for the fact that, according to the report, “Insiders say repeated violation of the statutory code of conduct for public office holders such as hiring his girlfriends and mistresses without complying with public service rules,” are said to be defining characters of the Sanusi leadership of the CBN.
A particular bank official (again unnamed) accused Sanusi of “enthroning nepotism at the bank, arbitrarily hiring girlfriends and relatives and engaging in extramarital relationships with staff.”
In the particular case of Mrs. Yaro, who is married to a business man resident in Kano, the Premium Times investigation alleged that the governor did not comply with the recruitment policy of the bank which states that “all appointments shall be made on the basis of merit, through a fair and open selection process. The principles underlying the recruitment process are those of fairness, credibility, equal employment opportunities, merit and optimization of career prospects for currently employed staff.”
Mrs. Yaro is alleged to have been employed in 2012. She was previously working for the National Programme on Food Security, an agency under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. Sanusi brought her in to the CBN as an “assistant director without advert for the vacancy and after a kangaroo interview.”
The CBN governor however denied the allegation of not following due process in hiring her. In a response to the paper, he said, “I have known Dr Yaro since 1981. She was my student in Yola and she later came to ABU Zaria. We have been very good friends but this is not why NIRSAL took her. You may wish to check her CV against all the other CVs in NIRSAL. And she did go through an interview process with the NIRSAL CEO making the decision not CBN HR.
“As for the personal allegations, this is all strange to me but I have a personal policy of not responding to such allegations since in Nigeria anything can be published on any public officer without proof. I have limited myself to what concerns official allegations and leave you to your God and your conscience on whatever else you want to publish. Thank you for telling me though.”
The paper said that Mrs Yaro declined comments on the matter.
“Be careful what you are saying,” she told one of our reporters on the telephone. “I have nothing to comment to you on anything.”
When asked if she would be willing to respond to specific questions about her trips to Lagos to keep dates with Mr. Sanusi, she simply said, “Whatever it is, I don’t know. Will you just let me be?”
Read the rest of the investigation below or check out the full story on the Premium Times website:
But our investigations revealed that the governor’s claim was far from accurate. Through several interviews and review of records, PREMIUM TIMES was able to determine that Mrs. Yaro and Mr. Sanusi had dated each other for at least six months before she was hired.
Insiders say Mr. Sanusi repeatedly pestered the human resource department of the bank ordering it to bring Mrs. Yaro’s application to him for approval. And once the file reached his table, the governor wasted no time in treating it.
On June 25, 2012, Mr. Sanusi, who was travelling in South Africa at the time, telephoned Mrs. Yaro to break the news to her that he had approved her recruitment in what critics consider a clear conflict of interest and a violation of a provision of Nigeria’s Code of Conduct which stipulates that “a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.”
Mrs Yaro, (whose businessman husband, Ahmed, is largely based in Kaduna but visits Abuja regularly) assumed duties at the CBN in the first week of September 2012 and was deployed to the Development Finance Department. The department then put her in charge of the bank’s Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System For Agricultural Lending, (NIRSAL), a unit that attempts to fix the agricultural value chain, so that banks can lend with confidence to the sector and, encourages banks to lend to the agricultural value chain by offering them strong incentives and technical assistance.
Sources said Mrs Yaro married Ahmed (or Shuaib, according to another source) six years ago after her first husband, Waisu Yaro Bodinga (then an executive director at the Nigeria Ports Authority) died in the ill-fated ADC plane crash of 2006.
The romance between Mrs Yaro and Mr. Sanusi became even hotter after she began work at the bank, with the two lovers regularly exchanging telephone calls and text messages during work hours to profess love for each other.
At times, Mrs Yaro would remain in her office far beyond close of work to enable her to keep appointments with the CBN governor, records show.
Sometimes, Mrs Yaro would raise concerns about Mr. Sanusi’s other girlfriends and mistresses (such as Sutura and Rose) and how they were blocking her from getting the governor’s full attention, but the relationship continued nonetheless.
Mrs. Yaro also began to have access to confidential information known only to top management and board of the bank, insiders say.
At a point, one source said, she began to strategise to corner contracts for one Goke Akinboro, the Chief Executive Officer of Lagos-based Cellullant Limited, an information technology company. Mr. Akinboro is also described as “very close” to Mrs Yaro.
On March 15, 2013, the CBN lovers headed to Lagos again for another weekend of fun. The initial plan was for the duo to fly to the nation’s commercial capital on Saturday, March 16, returning to Abuja on Sunday. But the trip had to be brought forward by a day after the lovers realized that the Area Council election in Abuja was holding that Saturday and that movement might be restricted.
Mrs. Yaro arrived Lagos on the night of March 15, and immediately checked into the Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel on Victoria Island. Mr. Sanusi flew from Kano to Lagos via chattered jet on the bills of the Nigerian taxpayers. He arrived at about 11 p.m., stopped by his Ikoyi home, before dashing to the hotel where Mrs. Yaro was waiting in a seductive dress in Room 23. The lovers spent that night and the next day together in the hotel.
As he flew into Abuja March 17 on a chattered jet, Mr. Sanusi sent a message to Mrs Yaro saying, “Love. Just landed in Abuja. Thank you for a wonderful weekend.” Mrs Yaro replied, “Alhamdulillah. I had a wonderful weekend too. I am able to get the 3:15 flight on Arik Air. Love you.”
But in-between these rendezvous in Lagos, Mr. Sanusi and Mrs Yaro also found time to get together elsewhere. They were to meet on March 11, 2013, in Makurdi but somehow Mrs Yaro could not make it to the Benue State capital. But earlier on February 14, (Valentine’s Day), the lovers had a good time together in Maiduguri. Although, the two of them travelled to the city on different missions, they somehow found a way to get together.
At a point, Mrs Yaro voiced open frustration when Mr. Lamido delayed in taking her calls as she tried, frantically, to track him down. “I’m thinking that one Shuwa girl has snatched you away from me,” Mrs. Yaro wrote in a message. “I don’t trust them (Maiduguri girls) with you.”