The ban placed on Commercial Banks in the country by the Central Bank of Nigeria from granting credit facilities to the Government of Cross River State of Nigeria on the ground of the indebtedness to commercial banks by the Tinapa Business Resort to the tune of N18 Billion Naira is regrettable and indeed a calculated attempt to cripple the Government of Cross River State of Nigeria.
The ban coming on the heels of the recent Judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria that divested the Cross River State of the ownership of 76 oil wells and vested same on Akwa Ibom State is decidedly a death knell for Cross River State.
I am at a complete loss and indeed flummoxed on the rationale for such a drastic decision against the Government of Cross River State since the Tinapa Business Resort is a legal and corporate entity incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2004.
The fact that the Tinapa Business Resort is owned by the Government of Cross River State does not mean that the Government of Cross River State should be held responsible for the Tinapa Business Resort to honour its contractual obligation to these banks.
Tinapa Business Resort is a legal and corporate entity that is separate and distinct from the Government of Cross River State and therefore goes without saying that the Government of Cross River State cannot be held responsible.
In any case, which law gives Central Bank of Nigeria such wide sweeping and drastic powers to interfere in the right of contract Tinapa Business Resort has with these Commercial Banks. The action of Central Bank of Nigeria in placing such a sweeping ban on commercial banks from granting credit facilities to the Government of Cross River State amounts to declaring the Government of Cross River State bankrupt.
Which law gives the Central Bank of Nigeria any debtor to a commercial Bank bankrupt? It is clear that the action of the Central Bank of Nigeria against the Government and people of Cross River State is arbitrary, capacious and impetuous.
The decision of the Central Bank to placed such a ban on commercial banks from contracting with the people and Government of Cross River State is an egregious injustice and tantamount to an infraction of the right to fair hearing on the government and people of Cross River State as secured and guaranteed by the Section 36 subsections 1 & 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
It is unfortunate that Central Bank of Nigeria, an institution that should be circumspect in taking decision that are hasty would proceed to take and make public such a far reaching decision that is capable of destroying the economics of a State without affording such a State the opportunity of being heard.
However, the chicken has come home to roost. Recently I call on the Cross River State House of Assembly to be alive to its constitutional responsibility immediately investigate the circumstances surrendering the huge debts incurred by the Government of Cross River State during the administration of former Governor Donald Duke (1999-2007). But my patriotic call was treated with ignominy. The chicken has indeed come home to roost!
It is instructive that the debt that precipitated the action of the Central Bank of Nigeria against the Cross River State was incurred during the administration of Donald Duke. I had warned in 2001 that the predilection of Donald Duke to obtaining loans from commercial banks under the guise of development of the Tinapa Business Resort would led to trouble in further, but nobody listened.
Today the reality is staring us on the face. Some of these loans were obtained under dubious and questionable circumstances. This is because Donald Duke had told us that the Tinapa Business Resort was a private concern.
If the Tinapa Business Resort was a private concern, what did he do with all the loans he collected from commercial banks under the guise of development of Tinapa?
It is settled that Donald Duke also with impunity seized revenue allocation from the Federation accounts for the 18 Local Government Area Councils in the State for five years amounting to billions of Naira under the cloak of purchase of shares for these Councils in the said Tinapa Business Resort. Today the bubble has busted. None of these 18 Local Government Councils today own a single share in Tinapa.
We make bold to say that Tinapa is a monumental fraud; an unmitigated disaster that has financially nailed Cross River State of Nigeria. We therefore call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to immediately take steps to bail out the Cross River State from this financial straits and mess.
We call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC respectively to be alive to their statutory responsibilities by investigating the petitions lodged against Donald Duke by patriotic Cross Riverians for financial indiscretion during his tenure. Donald Duke must account for how he came by the posh, palatial and multimillion Naira properties he owns in Ikoyi and Victoria Island, Lagos.