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Nigerian president dismisses bank chief

Cites leak about missing billions

LAGOS, Nigeria — President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday ousted the Central Bank governor blamed for leaking news that billions of petrodollars are missing from the coffers of Africa’s biggest oil producer, accusing him of ‘‘financial recklessness and misconduct.’’ The country’s naira currency weakened in response, analysts said.

Jonathan immediately sent to Parliament the name of another banker he proposed as the new custodian of the nation’s federal reserves, making clear that he effectively has fired the internationally respected Lamido Sanusi, a 52-year-old career banker.

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The opposition All Progressives Congress coalition said the move sends ‘‘a strong signal to all Nigerians that it [Jonathan’s administration] will not tolerate any exposure of corruption under any circumstance.’’

Senior analyst Murtala Touray said London-based HIS Country Risk assesses it as an effort to discredit Sanusi’s report of missing billions and to send a message to Sanusi’s successor ‘‘not to wash government’s dirty linen in public.’’

Sanusi, who has spearheaded bank reforms and acknowledged making powerful enemies among vested interests in a country where corruption is endemic, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The naira dropped from 163 to 169 to the US dollar when Jonathan’s statement became public, financial analysts said. The Central Bank briefly stopped trade in its fixed income and bond market.

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