Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has urged the Federal Government to initiate legal proceedings against the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and the apex bank’s management in response to the cash shortage experienced earlier this year. Falana also demanded that the CBN take responsibility for rebuilding bank structures damaged during the cash crunch and provide compensation to the families of those who lost their lives due to public unrest.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
In a statement released on Sunday, Falana asserted that Emefiele and the CBN had misled Nigerians regarding the availability of cash, attributing the shortage to the nation’s currency redesign. He went on to state, “Having falsely conveyed to Nigerians that an ample amount of cash had been distributed to commercial banks to replace the N3.5 trillion withdrawn from customers, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and the entire CBN leadership should face prosecution for incitement and culpable homicide.”
Furthermore, Falana emphasized the need for the CBN to rectify the destruction caused by enraged customers during the cash shortage, which resulted from the currency redesign policy. He also called for compensation to be provided to the families of individuals who lost their lives due to the public unrest.
The cash scarcity in January 2023 prompted the CBN to assert that it had supplied adequate funds to the country’s commercial banks in accordance with its currency redesign policy. This directive led to the arrest and potential prosecution of bank officials accused of undermining the new currency policy. In response, Nigerians flocked to banks to withdraw cash. However, the available funds fell short, leading to customer frustration.
The ensuing public outrage resulted in the burning of bank buildings and the destruction of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in certain states. This violence disrupted social and economic activities and resulted in the loss of at least five lives, with numerous others sustaining injuries. The Supreme Court’s decision to extend the deadline for the withdrawal of old Naira notes until December 31, 2023, helped alleviate some of the hardships caused by the cash shortage.
Falana’s demand for accountability and legal action against Emefiele and the CBN management highlights the seriousness of the situation and the need for transparency and restitution in the aftermath of the crisis.