* Anger, violence over cash crunch claimed five lives, paralysed economy, destruction
By Nudoiba Ojen
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana SAN, has said that the suspended chairman of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele and the banks management under him should be prosecuted for incitement and homicide.
Falana accused the Emefiele-led CBN of giving the impressing that banks were sabotaging the naira redesign programme when he deliberately created cash crunch by mopping up N3.5 trillion from the circulation but disbursed N402 billion only.
Falana said in a statement titled, ‘CBN mopped up N3.5 trillion, but disbursed N402 billion only’ that the bank in January acted in manner that incited the masses against banks resulting in burning of bank buildings, destruction of Automated Teller Machines in some states, paralysing social and economic activities, loss of not less than five lives while many others sustained injuries.
He stated, “In January 2023, the CBN 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 ATMs 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 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,” Falana said.