The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has declared his willingness to issue a warrant of arrest on Godwin Emiefele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, if he fails to appear before its committee.
Gbajabiamila said instead of the House adjourning plenary till February 28 for the elections as planned, the lawmakers would reconvene on Tuesday to take an action against Emefiele and other bank chiefs who fail to show up.
The speaker, who distinguished that Emefiele is his friend, pointed out that he would not vacillate to demand the Inspector General of Police to effect the arrest of the CBN governor and forceful appearance before the House.
The House had set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the scarcity of the new naira at the Deposit Money Banks, also known as commercial banks, leading to tension over the January 31 deadline set by the CBN for the exchange of the old notes with the newly designed ones.
Chairman of the committee, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, at the plenary on Thursday, informed the House about the nonappearance of the CBN chiefs before it on Wednesday. He noted that the committee had rescheduled the meeting to 1 pm on Thursday.
However, Gbajabiamila also informed the House that the CBN had written to the Clerk, informing the House of Emefiele’s inability to appear before the committee on Thursday.
The Speaker said the House would exercise its powers as contained in Section 89 of the 1999 Constitution.
Gbajabiamila also noted that the CBN Act allows the admittance of an old naira note by banks, even after it had ceased to be legal tender.
The House had on Tuesday called on the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over the brewing crisis occasioned by the January 31 deadline.
Apart from asking the CBN to extend the window for swapping the old notes with the newly redesigned one by six months, the House had invited the banks to a meeting on Wednesday over the scarcity of new naira notes.
The Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers of the banks, under the auspices of the Bankers’ Committee, were to meet with an ad hoc committee of the House to be chaired by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.
The House had particularly resolved that the banks should be invited to explain the alleged supply shortage from the CBN, after which the lawmakers would invite the leadership of the apex bank for questioning.
The House “calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the insistence of the CBN on the tight deadline for the implementation of the cashless policy and currency swap.”
The lawmakers also urged the CBN to extend the implementation of the cashless policy “to at least six months as well as review the daily withdrawal limit and the charges therefrom.”
The resolution follows the unanimous adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by a member of the House from Katsina State, Sara Soli, at the opening of the plenary on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the CBN failed to appear before the committee, with both sides blaming it on short notice.