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Old Naira Notes: Reps threaten to arrest CBN Governor, Bank CEOs

Members of the House of Representatives have threatened to invoke the relevant sections of the law to issue a warrant of arrest on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and the chief executive officers (CEOs) of other banks should they refuse to appear before its ad hoc committee on the withdrawal of old naira notes.

The Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, issued the threat at plenary after he was told by the chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, that Emefiele and bank CEOs did not attend the meeting scheduled for Wednesday owing to the late arrival of the invitation letter.

Thisday reports that the House, at plenary on Tuesday, set up an ad hoc committee to interface with CBN and bank CEOs on the January 31 deadline for the withdrawal of old naira notes.

However, on the scheduled date, Ado-Doguwa told the members of the committee that a communication received from the CBN liaison officer stated that due to the late arrival of the letter, the bureaucracy could not work on it.

At plenary Thursday, Gbajabiamila frowning on the development, said he was in possession of a letter from the CBN that Emefiele was on a trip with President Muhammadu Buhari to Dakar, Republic of Senegal and would not be available for the meeting.

The Speaker Insisted that the CBN must heed the call of the people and allow the old notes to remain in use alongside the new notes so as not to jeopardize the economy and impoverish Nigerians.

Threatening that he will contact the Inspector General of Police to issue the arrest warrant, Gbajabiamila noted that the CBN Act mandates the bank to redeem the face value of the recalled currency upon demand, even after the expiration of the notice of recall.

He vowed that notwithstanding the deadline imposed by CBN, the House will see to it that the provision of this law is honoured in full.

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.” (THISDAY)

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