LAGOS: Nigeria's former central bank chief Lamido Sanusi on Sunday described the president who ousted him as a simple man trying to do well who has been undermined by incompetent and fraudulent aides.
Sanusi was suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday over alleged financial misconduct, a move seen by many analysts as politically motivated.
Sanusi has accused the state Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) of misappropriating $20 billion (14.5 billion euros), allegations that earned him powerful enemies across the government.
In an interview with AFP in Lagos, Sanusi said many of the people advising Jonathan are sycophants who do not speak frankly or honestly about the extent of corruption in government.
"When you sit with President Jonathan himself he appears a nice simple person who is trying his best to do his best," Sanusi said.
"His greatest failing obviously is that he is surrounded by people who are extremely incompetent, who are extremely fraudulent and whom he trusts."
Sanusi learned of his removal from office while in Niger on Thursday and immediately returned to Lagos, where agents from the Directorate of State Services (DSS) seized his passport.
On Friday, he secured a temporary protective order from the Federal High Court in Lagos barring Nigerian intelligence agents from the DSS or police from arresting him.
"I thought taking away my passport was the beginning of infringement on my fundamental human rights," Sanusi told AFP, explaining why he had already sought court protection.
While no charges have been filed against him, Sanusi said he was prepared for whatever attacks may come.
"That we are here today means that I have taken the decision that I will face the consequences of whatever I do," he said.
He said his "fierce independence" had been an annoyance to the government since 2009, culminating with his sustained, public attack on the NNPC, widely seen as the epicentre of corruption in Africa's top oil producer.
"If I am sacrificed in whatever way, my freedom or my life... if it does lead to better accountability it will be well worth it," he said