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Election: Reps moves to arrest Emefiele; rejects CBN’s deadline extension on old naira notes

The committee on Sunday rejected a two-week extension for the deposit of old naira notes announced earlier in the day by Mr Emefiele.

• January 29, 2023
CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele and House of Reps speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila
CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele and House of Reps speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila

A House of Representatives committee on the recoloured naira notes says it will go ahead to sign an arrest warrant against Central Bank governor Godwin Emefiele. 

The committee on Sunday rejected a two-week extension for the deposit of old naira notes announced earlier in the day by Mr Emefiele.

In a statement, chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, said “the 10-day extension for the exchange of the old naira notes is not the solution: We as a legislative committee with a constitutional mandate of the house, would only accept clear compliance with Section 20 sub 3, 4, and 5 of the CBN act and nothing more.

He added, “Nigeria as a developing economy and a nascent democracy must respect the principle of the rule of law. And the House would go ahead to sign arrest warrant to compel the CBN Governor to appear before the ad-hoc committee.”

The chairman described the extension as a mere political gimmick to further deceive Nigerians and worsen their economic and social livelihood, insisting that the CBN governor must appear before or stand the risk of being arrested on the strength of a legislative writ signed earlier by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.

Gbajabiamila, had threatened to effect the arrest of Mr Gbajabiamila for failing to appear before the committee to explain recent actions of his institution.

Mr Doguwa further alleged that the naira redesign and cash limit policy can frustrate the forthcoming 2023 general election.

“Security agencies and their operations especially at the state level are generally funded through cash advances and direct table payments of allowances to operatives during elections,” he said.

The apex bank announced a decision to redesign higher denominations (N1,000, N500 and N200) of the Nigerian currency in October 2022 and placed a weekly limit on cash withdrawal to N500,000 and N5 million for individual and corporate bodies respectively, effective from January.

The CBN hinged the policy on claims that over 80 per cent of the N3.2 trillion naira in circulation has been hoarded outside the banking system for criminal purposes.

Analysts noted that bulk of the money has been stockpiled by politicians to compromise voters and officials handling the electioneering process.

Since President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the recoloured notes on November 23, it has remained very scarce, causing apprehension among Nigerians, especially those in rural and unbanked areas.

There has been a heavy rush for new notes around the country as scarcity grips cash-based businesses.

But on Sunday, the CBN governor claimed about 90 per cent of the N2.7 trillion outside banking vaults had been recouped in the time that the policy was announced. 

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