Femi Falana (SAN), a human rights attorney, requested on Sunday that the Federal Government bring charges against suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele and the entire CBN management for what he called “incitement and culpable homicide” in connection with the cash shortage that Nigerians faced in 2022.
The Naira shortage crisis sparked widespread rage and violence that left at least five people dead and numerous others hurt.
Falana also wants the CBN to pay the relatives of those slain as a result of public incitement and to replace the bank buildings that were destroyed by enraged customers following the cash crunch brought on by the redesign strategy.
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Following a query to the apex bank regarding the precise sum made available to each of the commercial banks, the bank, via a letter dated September 13, has belatedly confirmed that it issued redesigned currency notes totaling N402 billion to the banks despite removing N3.5 trillion from circulation, the lawyer said in a statement made available to newsmen.
Falana asserted that Emefiele and the bank’s whole management should be put on trial for deceiving Nigerians into thinking that N3.5 trillion in client money had been replaced by cash handed to commercial banks.
The full statement reads, “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.
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“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.
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“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.”
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