The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says he will not hesitate to ask the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, to issue an arrest warrant on the Godwin Emefiele to compel the central bank chief to appear before the House.
Mr Gbajabiamila stated this Thursday in reaction to the report presented by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Doguwa, who is the chairman of the ad hoc committee set up to interface with the Bankers Committee and the CBN.
Mr Doguwa informed the House that the CBN and Mr Emefiele did not honour the invitation to appear before the committee on Wednesday.
“The committee invited the CBN yesterday, and we decided to take the governor specifically yesterday, we invited the CBN governor yesterday, to come with the officials of the central bank. I want to say, with all sense of responsibility, that the committee was delayed by the absence – flagrant refusal of the CBN to make an appearance.
“The governor was not there and no other person came in place of the CBN governor. My committee sat without them. We spoke with the liaison of the CBN and he said they got the letter late. As an institution, we gave them a benefit of the doubt. We gave them 1 p.m.,” he said.
In his response, Mr Gbajabiamila said he is willing to trigger section 89(1)(d) of the 1999 constitution, which gives the House the power to direct security agencies to order an arrest warrant against anyone.
“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 said.
Last November, weeks after the apex bank announced its plan to redesign the three banknotes, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes as the apex bank fixed the 31 January deadline for the validity of the old notes.
But the circulation of the currency has been a challenge, as some commercial banks have complained of a shortage of the new notes.
However, Mr Emefiele has accused the banks of hoarding the new notes but insisted on the deadline.
On Tuesday, the House resolved to intervene by setting up an ad hoc committee to interface with the commercial banks and the CBN.
The CBN did not appear before the Committee on Wednesday.
Emefiele’s deadline contravenes CBN Act—Gbajabiamila
In his speech, Mr Gbajabiamila said the CBN Act allows acceptance of old notes even after a deadline.
He quoted section 20 of the CBN Act, which gives the CBN the powers to create new notes and coins, but also provides a timeline for expiration of the old notes.
“Notwithstanding Sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section, the Bank shall have power, if directed to do so by the President and after giving reasonable notice in that behalf, to call in any of its notes or coins on payment of the face value thereof and any note or coin with respect to which a notice has been given under this Sub-section, shall, on the expiration of the notice, cease to be legal tender, but, subject to section 22 of this Act, shall be redeemed by the Bank upon demand,” section 20(3) reads.
Interpreting the law, Mr Gbajabiamila said banks are mandated by the law to receive the old notes.
“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.
“Now let me explain that again: the CBN Act, under Section 20, allows the Central Bank to change the legal tender. It also says that after the expiration date, such naira notes changed will no longer be legal tender, but it also says that even five months, three months, or two months after, even in June, all the old notes presented to the bank shall be redeemed by the bank,” he said.
The speaker directed the committee to convene again, even if Mr Emefiele fails to show up.
Mr Gbajabiamila further stated that the lower chamber will postpone its planned recess until the issue is resolved
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