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Naira Scarcity: Prosecute Emefiele, CBN management now, Falana tells FG

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.He resigned as CBN governor in August –Report

.Beneficiaries complain as CBN set to recover COVID-19 intervention loans

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Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has asked the Federal Government to prosecute the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele, and the management of the apex bank over the cash shortage in the country early this year.

In a statement, on Sunday, he said that Emefiele and the CBN lied to Nigerians over the availability of cash owing to the redesign of the naira.

“Having misled Nigerians to believe that sufficient cash was distributed to commercial banks to replace the sum of N3.5 trillion mopped up from customers, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and the entire management of the CBN ought to be prosecuted for incitement and culpable homicide,” he said.

Falana also asked the CBN to rebuild the bank buildings that were destroyed by angry customers in the aftermath of the cash crunch occasioned by the redesign policy and also for the apex bank to compensate the families of those who were killed due to the incitement of the public.

“In addition, the CBN should rebuild the bank buildings that were destroyed and pay compensation to the families of those who were killed as a result of the incitement of members of the public,” Falana added.

The full statement from Femi Falana to the CBN reads: CBN Mopped Up N3.5 Trollion But Disbursed N402 Billion Only

In January 2023, the Central Bank of Nigeria claimed that it had supplied the commercial banks in the country with enough cash in line with its currency design policy. The apex bank purportedly directed security agencies to arrest and prosecute bank officials who were accused of sabotaging the new currency policy. Based on the statement, Nigerians trooped to the banks to collect cash. As the cash was insufficient, customers became angry.

The mass anger over the cash crunch provoked customers who burnt bank buildings and destroyed Automated Teller Machines in some states. The violence paralysed social and economic activities and claimed not less than five lives while many others were injured. But for the Supreme Court, which extended the deadline for the withdrawal of the old Naira notes up until December 31, 2023, the cash crunch would have made life more unbearable for the Nigerian people.

Convinced that the suspended governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Emefiele had lied and deceived the Nigerian people, we requested information about the actual amount made available to each of the commercial banks. In its belated response to our request, the CBN has now confirmed that it issued redesigned currency notes of N402 billion to the banks.

Having misled Nigerians to believe that sufficient cash was distributed to commercial banks to replace the sum of N3.5 trillion mopped up from customers, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and the entire management of the CBN ought to be prosecuted for incitement and culpable homicide. In addition, the CBN should rebuild the bank buildings that were destroyed and pay compensation to the families of those who were killed as a result of the incitement of members of the public.

 

.He resigned as CBN governor in August –Report

Meanwhile, Mr. Godwin Emefiele reportedly resigned as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in August

According to Reuters, Emefiele, who was suspended in June, tendered his resignation letter to President Bola Tinubu.

With Emefiele’s resignation, legal concerns regarding the nomination of Yemi Cardoso as the new governor of CBN have been laid to rest.

In a statement on Friday, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, announced Cardoso’s nomination.

The president also nominated four new deputy governors; namely Emem Nnana Usoro, Muhammad Sani Abdullahi Dattijo, Philip Ikeazor and Bala M. Bello.

Upon confirmation by the Senate, Cardoso is expected to serve for a term of five years.

 

  • Emefiele’s Suspension And Trial

On June 9, Tinubu suspended Emefiele and asked him to transfer his responsibilities to Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi, deputy governor, operations directorate.

The day after, the DSS announced that Emefiele was in its custody for “some investigative reasons”.

On July 25, he was arraigned on a two-count charge bordering on “illegal possession” of firearms at a federal high court in Lagos and was granted bail in the sum of N20 million.

The two-count charge was later struck out on August 17 after the federal government withdrew.

However, a fresh 20-count charge was instituted against him over an alleged conspiracy to carry out procurement fraud, among others.

The arraignment has been stalled twice.

Some media reports had indicated that Emefiele was proposing a plea bargain to which the federal government was disposed.

The agreement required Emefiele to resign as CBN governor and “disgorge” some assets.

 

  • Appointment And Removal Of A CBN Governor

By the provisions of the law, the president cannot remove a CBN governor unilaterally.

Section 11 of the Central Bank Act 2007 specifies the conditions upon which a CBN governor can be removed from office.

Section 11(2)(f) empowers the president to terminate the appointment of a CBN governor, but the “removal of the governor shall be supported by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.”

If the president cannot get a two-thirds majority of the Senate, another option would be to wait until the CBN governor is convicted of a criminal offence by a court of competent jurisdiction, per section 11(2)(b).

However, section 11(3) of the CBN Act allows the CBN governor to resign by giving at least three months’ notice in writing to the president.

.Beneficiaries complain as CBN set to recover COVID-19 intervention loans

 

However, The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is set to recover loans it granted some categories of Nigerians to ameliorate harsh socio-economic realities.

 

The News Agency of  Nigeria reports that the loan initiative involved is the Targeted Credit Facilities (TCF), granted to some  Nigerians in 2020 to cushion the economic effect of COVID-19.

 

Some beneficiaries of the facility,  however, expressed concern about the manner of recovery.

 

A beneficiary, Fatimah Alli, said that the sudden move to recover her N500,000 COVID-19 loan had worsened her financial challenges.

 

“I got a loan of N500,000 in 2020 to cushion the effect economic effect of COVID-19.  But at that time we were assured that we would not be required to repay the money.

 

“But recently, all the money in my bank account was removed by the CBN as part of the loan recovery drive,” she said.

 

Another beneficiary of the TCF,  Abbas Sule, also complained about arbitrary loan deductions from his bank account.

 

“When I was granted the loan facility in 2020, the bank official that processed the release through NIRSAL Microfinance Bank (NMFB) got a commission of N50,000, and I was paid N450,000.

 

“Now they want me to repay N500,000,  that is not fair, ” he said.

 

NAN reports that NMFB  recently called for the repayment of COVID-19 loans given to households and business operators across the country.

 

The CBN had in March 2020, introduced the N50 billion TCF to support households and Micro, Small and Medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that have been particularly hit hard by COVID-19.

 

The loans were disbursed to beneficiaries by NIRSAL, an entity owned by CBN, at an interest rate of five per cent with a moratorium period that lasts till February 28, 2021.

 

At the expiration of the moratorium, the interest rate of the facility reverts to nine per cent from March 1, 2021.

 

According to NMFB in Its official Twitter handle, we have played our part. It is now your turn.

 

The MFB revealed that it had given out loans worth N503 billion to more than 881,081 Nigerians and business operators to cushion the effects of the pandemic.

 

It urged beneficiaries to take steps to repay the loans, as they were not given as grants.

 

“You are expected to visit the nearest NIRSAL branch to obtain a loan repayment schedule.

 

You must ensure that your loan account is always funded,” it said. (NAN)

 

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