The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele and some bank directors over their collective refusal to honour an invite by the green chamber over the scarcity of three newly designed naira notes.
The House had summoned the CBN governor and bank directors over the January 31, 2023 deadline for the validity of old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes but the bank chiefs refused to heed the invitation by the green chamber.
Gbajabiamila, in a statement on Thursday, said the bank chiefs, by shunning the invitation of the House, insulted the authority and prerogatives of the people’s parliament. “This is unacceptable,” he said.
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Although the Speaker, in his statement on Thursday, said the warrant to be issued would be against the CBN and bank directors but did not expressly mention Emefiele, the House had at different times in the last two months summoned the CBN governor over the naira redesign but the invitation was not honoured.
The House had invited Emefiele and the bank directors to give reasons for the ongoing failure to adequately disburse the redesigned naira notes before January 31, 2023.
The House further constituted an ad-hoc committee led by the Majority Leader of the House, Alhassan Ado Doguwa over the matter.
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The Speaker said, “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.”
He noted that the House recognised the CBN’s 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.”
The CBN on October 26, 2022, announced its plan to redesign the three banknotes. President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently unveiled the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes on November 23, 2022, while the apex bank fixed January 31 deadline for the validity of the old notes.
The CBN also pegged its weekly cash withdrawal limits to N500,000 for individuals and N5m for corporate firms.