The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, has finally appeared before the House of Representatives which summoned him over the crisis caused by the redesign of some naira notes and the exchange of old naira notes with new ones by the populace.
Emefiele is appearing before the ad hoc committee set up by the House to investigate the crisis, which is chaired by Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, was to issue a warrant for Emefiele’s arrest over his repeated failures to answer at least four summons from the House.
The House had shelved its plan to go on break for the presidential and National Assembly elections, which was to commence on Thursday, over the CBN governor’s failure to answer the last summons issued to him by the committee.
Gbajabiamila had threatened to mandate the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to arrest and force his appearance before the panel, insisting that the deadline breached the provision of Section 20(3) of the CBN Act.
The Speaker partly said, “I have no choice now. On Tuesday when we resume, we will invoke the provisions of Section 89 of the Constitution .The President has been very clear. The President gave the approval based on what he knows and what he has been told.
“We also know the President to be a man of the people. He gave his approval based on what he had been told. But we are saying – what the motion is saying – is that after the President gave his approval, how does the money get to the people? The money is not getting to the people. That is what we sought to clarify and that is exactly what we are going to do.
“So, on Tuesday, this House will follow its procedure – the normal procedure – and invoke the provisions of Section 89 to compel the governor of the CBN and the directors.”
The Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, had also urged the House to allow the leadership to meet with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and explain the controversial implementation of the policy to him, which the Speaker agreed to.
Though the CBN, on Sunday, extended the deadline on the expiration of the old N1,000, N500 and N200 noted by 10 days – from January 31 to February 10, with the Deposit Money Banks (commercial banks) allowed to accept the notes by seven days more, the House had insisted on Emefiele’s appearance.
Ado-Doguwa, in a statement titled ‘Old Naira Notes: House C’ttee Rejects CBN Extension, Says Position of Law Sacrosanct, Must Be Respected,’ insisted that the apex bank must comply with Sections 20(3), (4) and (5) of the CBN Act.
“Nigeria, as a developing economy and a nascent democracy, must respect the principles of the rule of law. And the House would go ahead to sign the arrest warrant to compel the CBN governor to appear before the ad hoc committee,” the Majority Leader stated.
Emefiele, however, led the leadership of the CBN to appear before the lawmakers on Tuesday.
Cumulatively, Emefiele has failed to answer summons from the House at least four times within two months.
The House had on December 22, 2022, grilled the Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, Central Bank of Nigeria, Aisha Ahmad, over the latest policy by the apex bank which, among others, sets limits to cash withdrawals at the Deposit Money Banks and other financial institutions.
The House had summoned Emefiele but he failed to appear in the two previous appointments with the lawmakers. The CBN had informed the House that Emefiele would not appear before the House in person, rather Ahmad would lead the Committee of Governors before the lawmakers.
Emefiele had also failed to answer two summons from the House’ ad hoc committee to investigate the scarcity of the new naira at the Deposit Money Banks, also known as commercial banks, leading to tension over the January 31 deadline set by the CBN for the exchange of the old notes with the newly designed ones.