by Isi Esene

The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Charles Soludo was yesterday night picked up by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a controversial contract he allegedly awarded to an Australian firm for the printing of polymer currency notes while he waas head of the apex bank.

Sources say Soludo was arrested alongside 12 other senior officials of the CBN and the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC), who were suspected to be connected to the currency scam during Soludo’s tenure.

An EFCC source confirmed that Soludo is in their custody saying, “We have Soludo in our custody and it is part of an ongoing investigation over his involvement in the award of contract and printing of polymer banknotes when he was the governor of the CBN.”

There had been lingering allegations of fraud in the deal between the CBN and  Securency International Pty of Australia regarding the introduction of the N5, N10 and N50 polymer notes launched by late president Umar Musa Yar’Adua in 2009.

There are indications that the former CBN governor alongside others arrested will be charged to court as soon as arrangements are concluded.

An EFCC source said, “As soon as the Commission concludes its ongoing investigations and we have enough evidence, Soludo and others will be charged to court to face prosecution.”

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren confirmed the arrest but was reluctant to give details of the case against Soludo.

A human rights group in May 2012,  had called on the EFCC to investigate the controversial contract awarded by the former CBN boss for the printing of polymer banknotes.

The petition alleged that the firm that reportedly got the job from Soludo admitted paying some N750m in bribes to some officials of the CBN between 2006 and 2008 in order to secure the contract to make polymer notes for Nigeria.

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