The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, warned on Thursday that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, risked being arrested for failing to honour an invitation by the House to explain the limited circulation of new Naira notes in the country, days before the January 31 deadline set by the bank to stop the use of old notes.
The affected denominations are N1000, N500, and N200, which the apex bank recently re-designed.
Gbajabiamila spoke during plenary in Abuja after the House was briefed that neither Emefiele nor any official of the bank showed up before an ad-hoc committee given the task of looking into the matter.
The committee, by a resolution of the House, was mandated to interface with the CBN and Managing Directors (MDs) of deposit money banks.
The chairman of the committee and leader of the house, Rep. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, informed members that no CBN official attended the committee meeting, which was fixed for Wednesday.
He said the apex bank gave an excuse that the invitation got to its office late, but applied to appear instead on Thursday.
However, while the plenary of the House was in progress on Thursday, a letter was transmitted from the CBN, saying that Emefiele was in Dakar, Senegal, and would not be able to appear before the committee.
The letter did not indicate that any senior officials of the bank had been delegated to represent the governor.
Gbajabiamila, who read the letter to members, immediately expressed the displeasure of the House with the manner in which the CBN handled the case, which he said meant a total disregard for the House of the Nigerian people.
The Speaker warned that if by the end of Thursday, no official of the bank had appeared before the committee, he would be forced to issue a warrant for the arrest of Emefiele.
“I give them the benefit of the doubt. Go to the committee room, the venue of the meeting, and wait. If they don’t come, then we will know the next thing to do…
“If by the end of today, there is further disregard, I will not hesitate to issue a warrant to the Inspector-General of Police to compel the attendance of the CBN Governor and all MDs who fail to respond to the invitation of the House”, Gbajabiamila stated.
He also reminded the CBN that under
Section 20(3) of its establishment Act, new and old notes are to coexist until the old ones are completely mopped up from the economy.
The Speaker stressed that the case of imposing a deadline that had brought serious hardship on the citizenry, while the new notes were not available, was not provided for in the law.
The House was ordinarily, scheduled to adjourn sitting on Thursday for four weeks to allow members to proceed with their re-election campaigns.
But, with the latest development, the Speaker appealed to his colleagues to make the sacrifice of coming to work on Tuesday next week in order for the House to dispense with the issue at hand.
Lawmakers unanimously agreed to be available for work on Tuesday, next week.