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Nigeria’s Sanusi to Finish Term After Report He’s Told to Go

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s central bank said Governor Lamido Sanusi plans to remain in office until the end of his term in June following a newspaper report that President Goodluck Jonathan asked him to resign.

“The governor confirmed to the management and staff at a Central Bank of Nigeria meeting last night that he is not going on leave,” Ugochukwu Okoroafor, a spokesman for the Abuja-based bank, said in a phone interview today.

Jonathan asked Sanusi to resign for allegedly leaking a letter he wrote to the president to former leader Olusegun Obasanjo, Lagos-based ThisDay reported today, citing people it didn’t identify. In the letter sent to Jonathan, Sanusi said $49.8 billion of oil revenue wasn’t remitted to the government by Nigeria’s state-owned oil company.

Okoroafor declined to comment on the newspaper report, while the mobile phone of presidential spokesman Reuben Abati was switched off.

Central bank rules dictate that the president must have two-thirds majority support in the Senate, Nigeria’s upper house of parliament, to remove the central bank governor. That may prove difficult after the defection of lawmakers from Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party last year to the opposition, reducing the ruling party’s majority in parliament.

While it’s “highly unlikely” that Sanusi will be removed before his term expires, “the risks that the next CBN governor will be a closer ally of the current administration -- and less independent -- have increased,” Samir Gadio, an emerging-market strategist at Standard Bank Plc in London, said today in e-mailed comments.

Obasanjo’s Criticism

Sanusi, 52, said last year he won’t renew his contract as governor when it expires in June.

The naira gained 0.4 percent on the interbank market to 158.95 against the dollar as of 3:02 p.m. in Lagos today.

Obasanjo accused Jonathan in a Dec. 2 letter of causing ethnic divisions, training snipers to target 1,000 political opponents and failing to tackle corruption. Jonathan called those accusations a “threat to national security.”

Tunde Lemo, a deputy governor of the bank, will leave his position tomorrow after having served the maximum two, five-year terms. He said his exit from office won’t affect his chances of possibility succeeding Sanusi.

Lagos-based Vetiva Capital Management Ltd. said in an October report that potential candidates include Lemo and Sanusi’s other three deputies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Magnowski in Abuja at dmagnowski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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