Threats to issue arrest warrants for Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), have been made by the House of Representatives.
The warning was made by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, during a plenary session on Thursday after learning that Emefiele and the CEOs of other banks had declined to come before the ad hoc committee on the removal of old naira notes.
The House had formed an ad hoc committee to look into the issue since the CBN had set a deadline of January 31 for the exchange of the old notes for the newly created ones, and this shortage of the new naira at the Deposit Money Banks, commonly known as commercial banks, had caused anxiety.
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Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, the committee’s chairman, told the House in plenary on Thursday of the CBN officials’ absence from their hearing before the committee on Wednesday.
Ado-Doguwa informed the committee members that the bureaucracy was unable to process the letter because of its late arrival, according to correspondence from the CBN liaison officer.
Gbajabiamila expressed displeasure at the occurrence and claimed to have a letter from the CBN stating that Emefiele will be absent from the meeting because he was traveling to Dakar, Republic of Senegal, with President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Speaker urged that the CBN must listen the public’s demand and let the old notes to continue to be used alongside the new ones in order to prevent economic instability and the plight of Nigerians.
Gbajabiamila said that the CBN Act requires the bank to redeem the face value of the recalled cash upon demand, even after the notice of recall has expired, and that he would threaten to contact the Inspector General of Police to issue the arrest warrant.
He stated that the House will ensure that the provisions of this bill were fully upheld, regardless of the time set by CBN.
The Speaker said: “The House of Representatives, in response to a motion on a matter of urgent public importance, invited CBN and managing directors of banks in Nigeria to appear before the House of Representatives.
“They were invited to give reasons for the ongoing failure to adequately disburse the redesigned naira notes before the expiration of the deadline of 31st January, 2023, when the old notes will cease to be legal tender.
“The House further constituted an ad hoc committee led by the Majority Leader, Rep. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, for this purpose. No official of the CBN appeared to respond to the summons by the House of Representatives. This is unacceptable.
“The resolution of the House was predicated on information showing that the rollout of the redesigned naira notes has been an unmitigated failure. This failure has real and dire consequences on the ability of Nigerians to conduct business across the country.
“The refusal by the CBN to heed the invitation by the House of Representatives is evidence of a blatant disregard for the well-being of the Nigerian people who are their customers. It is also an insult to the authority and prerogatives of the people’s parliament.
“Therefore, I will, pursuant to the authority conferred by Section 89 (1)(d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Order 19 (2)(1) of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, not hesitate to issue a warrant to the Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force to compel the attendance of the CBN or managing directors who fail, refuse or neglect to respond to the summons by the House of Representatives.
“The House of Representatives recognizes the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) authority to determine the country’s legal tender and to recall currency with reasonable notice, subject to the approval of the President.
“The House is also aware that Section 20 (3) Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act mandates the CBN to redeem the face value of the recalled currency upon demand, even after the expiration of the notice of recall.
“Notwithstanding the deadline imposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), this House will see to it that this provision of the law is honoured in full.”
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