HUMAN rights lawyer Femi Falana has urged President Tinubu-led Federal Government to prosecute the suspended and now former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, over the naira scarcity that hit the country early this year.
In a statement he released on Sunday, September 17, 2023, Falana said Emefiele and the CBN lied to Nigerians over the availability of cash owing to redesigning the nation’s currency.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Falana also charged the CBN to rebuild commercial bank buildings destroyed by angry customers while the scarcity lasted.
He also appealed to the apex bank to compensate the families of those who were killed due to the incitement of the public.
The ICIR reported how the Supreme Court nullified the currency redesign on March 3, after governors elected on the platform of the ruling party – the All Progressives Congress (APC), approached the court to declare the policy nullity.
Buhari authorised the policy, which the CBN said made the old notes cease to be legal tender from February 10.
In one of its many reports on the hardship the policy has brought to people in the country, The ICIR reported how Nigerians went nude, fought in banks and engaged in other habits that counted as offences when things were normal.
The then-candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu and incumbent President, said the prevailing fuel scarcity, which coincided with the naira scarcity, aimed to sabotage the 2023 general elections.
The ICIR reported how Tinubu suspended Emefiele shortly after assuming office and directed him to hand over the affairs of his office to the deputy governor operations directorate, Folashodun Shonubi.
The State Security Service (SSS), which arrested him shortly after his suspension, did not initially give reasons for his arrest.
However, the SSS eventually brought him to the Federal High Court in Lagos, where he faced charges of alleged illegal gun possession, comprising two counts related to firearms and ammunition.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo granted him bail on a N20 million bond, requiring one surety of equivalent value.
However, the Federal Government filed additional charges against him in Abuja on August 15, following his rearrest at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in the society. You can shoot him a scoop via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.