Under the administration of the now suspended Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, the bank never followed the principles of “ways and means” loans and the loans thus jumped from N789.6billion in May 2015 to N22.7trillion in May 2023 under the Muhammadu Buhari’s years, a Nigerian human rights activist, Sesugh Akume has said.
In a release on Friday obtained by SaharaReporters in reaction to Emefiele’s suspension, Akume noted that this policy gaffe and others were responsible for “distortions in the economy, including inflation (the rising cost of goods and services) which the CBN itself admits” under Emefiele.
The Nigerian activist, however, faulted the unilateral suspension of Emefiele by President Bola Tinubu without recourse to the Nigerian Senate as stated in the CBN Act 2007 adding that the act “needs to be strengthened to protect the institution of the CBN from abuses, both internal and external.”
He said, “I have been opposed to the rank incompetence, maladministration, and abuses by Godwin Emefiele as CBN governor and have in the past instituted two (2) lawsuits against him and the CBN, and others at the Federal High Court Abuja.
“In Sesugh Akume v CBN and Godwin Emefiele (CBN Governor) with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1051/2021, I among other things, sought to hold him and the Bank accountable and to stop their perversion of ‘ways and means' which permits the CBN to lend 5% of the federal government's income in the previous year to the federal government and to not further lend to the federal government until what was borrowed is fully refunded.
“Under Emefiele this was never followed leading to ways and means loans jumping from N789.6 billion as of May 2015 to N22.7 trillion as of May 2023 in the Buhari years. This was responsible for distortions in the economy, including inflation (the rising cost of goods and services) which the CBN itself admits.
“In the second one, Sesugh Akume v CBN, Godwin Emefiele (CBN Governor), Debt Management Office (DMO), Patience Oniha (DMO Director-General), and Attorney-General of the Federation, with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1320/2021, whereby CBN under Emefiele and DMO under Patience Oniha denied a Freedom of Information (FOI) application I made to them on the correct status of ways and means loans by CBN to the federal government.
“The harm Godwin Emefiele has done to Nigeria, its monetary system, the CBN as an institution, and Nigerians is incalculable, and he needs to end up in prison some day, hopefully in the near future.
“I am, however, vehemently opposed to his removal by fiat and without the due process of the law as prescribed by the CBN Act 2007. Section 11(2)(f) CBN Act 2007 is clear that a CBN governor can only be removed by two-thirds majority of the Senate voting in favour. The standard practice worldwide is for central banks to be independent, and the head of the central insulated from all forms of external interference, including political interference. It is only in a banana republic that a central bank governor can be removed by an order from the head of state or government.
“Suspension is a form of removal, even if temporary. Emefiele’s removal without recourse to the Senate is an abuse. Sadly, the abuse of nine years prior whereby the then CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was removed by fiat has become a precedent to be relied on for further abuse.
“If we are a country of laws, then things should be done according to the due process of the law. Anything other than this is prescription for chaos no matter how noble the intent is or pretended to be.
“The CBN Act 2007 needs to be strengthened to protect the institution of the CBN from abuses, both internal and external.”