Naira redesign: Despite threat of arrest, Emefiele fails to appear before reps

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A house of representatives ad hoc committee has recommended to Femi Gbajabiamila to issue a warrant of arrest against Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for ignoring its summon.

 

Alhassan Doguwa, majority leader of the house and chairman of the committee, spoke at an interactive meeting with the managing directors of banks on Thursday in Abuja.

 

Gbajabiamila, speaker of the lower legislative chamber, had earlier threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against Emefiele, if he failed to appear before the committee.

 

The lawmaker, who spoke at Thursday’s plenary, said it was “unacceptable” for the CBN governor to ignore the summon of the house.

 

On Tuesday, the house asked the CBN to extend the deadline for the withdrawal of old naira notes from circulation from January 31 to July.

 

The lower legislative chamber also set up a committee to meet with Emefiele and top officials of the CBN, as well as the managing directors of banks on Wednesday.

 

However, the CBN governor or his representatives, failed to appear before the committee on Wednesday, but wrote to the committee that the letter of invitation was received late.

 

The committee, again, wrote inviting Emefiele to appear on Thursday, but the house received a letter from the CBN deputy governor, corporate services, that the CBN governor is among a delegation of President Muhammadu Buhari to Senegal.

 

Dissatisfied with response of the apex bank, Gbajabiamila asked Doguwa to convene the meeting as earlier scheduled and inform the house if the CBN governor fails to appear.

 

At the meeting with the MDs of banks on Thursday, neither Emefiele nor his representatives were present.

 

Speaking at meeting Doguwa said the head of the CBN, by failing to appear before the lawmakers, has disrespected the national assembly.

 

He said the trip was over and that the president was currently in his hometown — and so the CBN lied to the house.

 

“The letter holds no water,” he said, referring to the notice that Emefiele was out of the country.

 

Doguwa said the committee will recommend to the speaker to “initiate the instrumentality of the law to compel the CBN governor to appear before the house”.

 

“It is our position of this committee and by extension, the position of the house of representatives that the letter they have earlier sent to us is only an action in futility. The house does not count on that letter whatsoever and it holds no water at all,” he added.

 

 “I want to rule that the Central Bank of Nigeria through its chief executive, who is the governor of the central bank, has decided to flagrantly disregard and disrespect the institution of the legislature. And on this note, I would want to say that this committee will outrightly inform the house.

 

“Commercial banks are complaining, their customers are complaining, the economy is bleeding, and we go to the polls in these circumstances. I want to believe that somewhere, somehow, there is a dark horse behind the agenda and we will not allow that cause to continue to drag the success of our electoral process.

 

 “By this position, the house of representatives is now compelled to recommend to Mr. speaker to go ahead and initiate the necessary instrumentality of the law to compel the governor of the central bank to appear before this constitutional committee.”

 

Meanwhile, speaking after plenary on Thursday, Gbajabiamila said he will issue the warrant of arrest against Emefiele on Tuesday.

 

WHAT THE LAW SAYS

 

Section 89 (1c) of the 1999 constitution empowers the national assembly to “summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, and examine him as a witness and require him to produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, subject to all just exceptions”.

 

When such summon is disobeyed, section 89 (1d), states that the lawmakers can “issue a warrant to compel the attendance of any person who, after having been summoned to attend, fails, refuses or neglects to do so and does not excuse such failure, refusal or neglect to the satisfaction of the house or the committee in question”.

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