Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) on Sunday, asked the Federal Government to prosecute the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and the entire management of the CBN for what he termed “incitement and culpable homicide” over the cash crunch experienced by Nigerians in 2022.
The Naira scarcity situation led to mass anger, violence and which claimed at least five lives with many others injured.
Falana also wants the CBN to rebuild the bank buildings that were destroyed by angry customers in the aftermath of the cash crunch occasioned by the redesign policy and also for the apex bank to compensate the families of those who were killed due to the incitement of the public.
The lawyer in a statement released to newsmen said that following a request to the apex bank about the actual amount made available to each of the commercial banks, the bank via a letter dated Sept. 13 has belatedly confirmed that it issued a redesigned currency notes of N402 billion to the banks despite mopping up N3.5 trillion from circulation.
Falana said 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, Emefiele and the entire management of the bank ought to face trial.
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.
“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.”