Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has called on the Federal Government to prosecute the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its suspended Governor, Godwin Emefiele, over the botched naira swap policy.
Many Nigerians were subjected to an excruciating experience early in the year, no thanks to the naira scarcity that resulted from the shoddy handling of the rollout of the redesigned notes and the new cash policy by the apex bank.
The situation led to pockets of crisis in different parts of the country as angry customers besieged bank halls, forcing bank officials to run for dear life. Some Nigerians paid the ultimate price in the process, while bank buildings were destroyed by frustrated citizens.
Now, Falana, in a statement on Sunday, September 17, 2023, alleged that Emefiele and the CBN sold lies to Nigerians regarding the availability of cash during the tumultuous period.
“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,” the statement partly read.
Falana also demanded that the CBN pick up the bill for the rebuilding of the bank buildings that were destroyed during the crisis and also asked the apex bank to compensate the families who lost loved ones due to the incitement of the public.
“In addition, the CBN should rebuild the bank buildings that were destroyed and pay compensation to the families of those who were killed as a result of the incitement of members of the public,” Falana added.
Read Falana’s full statement below;
CBN MOPPED UP N3.5 TRILLION BUT DISBURSED N402 BILLION ONLY
In January 2023, the Central Bank of Nigeria claimed that it had supplied the commercial banks in the country with enough cash in line with its currency design policy. The apex bank purportedly directed security agencies to arrest and prosecute bank officials who were accused of sabotaging the new currency policy. Based on the statement, Nigerians trooped to the banks to collect cash. As the cash was insufficient, customers became angry.
The mass anger over the cash crunch provoked customers who burnt bank buildings and destroyed Automated Teller Machines in some states. The violence, paralysed social and economic activities, and claimed not less than five lives while many others were injured. But for the Supreme Court, which extended the deadline for the withdrawal of the old Naira notes up until December 31, 2023, the cash crunch would have made life more unbearable for the Nigerian people.
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.
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. In addition, the CBN should rebuild the bank buildings that were destroyed and pay compensation to the families of those who were killed as a result of the incitement of members of the public.
Femi Falana SAN