Withdrawal Limit: Reps Kick As Emefiele Shuns Summon Again
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has again written to the House of Representatives, informing it of his unavailability to brief them on the new withdrawal policy of the bank.
The CBN governor was initially due to appear before the lawmakers on December 15, but it was rescheduled after he sent a letter to the parliament stating that he was out of the country.
Emefiele, in a letter by Deputy Governor of Corporate Services Directorate, Edward Adamu, addressed to the clerk of the House, Yahaya Danzaria, said Emefiele is currently on official assignment abroad, hence, he is unable to honour the invitation of the House.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila read the letter during plenary on Tuesday.
Mr Emefiele was billed to appear before the lower chamber on Tuesday.
“Regrettably, the governor is unavailable to brief the House of Representatives at this time, because he has other scheduled official engagements he is currently addressing abroad.
“Accordingly, he has requested that we respectively convey his inability to honour this invitation on the rescheduled date. The governor regrets this and will contact the House of Representatives as soon as he returns to the country from his official assignment,” the letter reads in part.
The lawmakers had two weeks ago summoned Emefiele to brief them on the new withdrawal policy.
This was a sequel to a motion of a matter of urgent public importance moved by Aliyu Magaji (APC Jigawa) during plenary.
Emefiele’s appearance was, however, rescheduled after a letter from the CBN, informing the House that he was in Washington DC as part of the entourage of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The CBN governor was to appear to explain what informed the introduction of the policy and other issues around it.
In a memo signed by the Director of Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, two weeks ago, the apex bank directed all banks and other financial institutions to ensure that over-the-counter cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities do not exceed N100, 000 and N500, 000, respectively, per week.
In the new development, CBN directed that only N200 and lower denominations should be loaded into banks’ ATM machines.
The lawmakers then resolved that the CBN should halt the implementation of the policy until the probe is concluded.
Emefiele must appear on Thursday, to resolve
Yusuf Gagdi (APC, Plateau), speaking on the letter by the CBN, said Mr Emefiele must respect the institution of the National Assembly.
He added that though he is not against the policy, the CBN governor must respect the lawmakers as representatives of the people.
“For me, I am not against any policy but I am against disrespect to you (Speaker) and the Nigerian people—to the House. The speaker is a symbol of the Nigerian people. We have names to protect. I wish to say that the house must be mindful of the perception we are giving out. We will not tolerate further excuses,” he said.
Reacting to the position of Mr Gagdi, the Speaker said the matter has nothing to do with respect, but rather the need to obey statutory provisions of the CBN Act and the 1999 constitution.
He said the CBN governor must appear on Thursday to brief the lawmakers on the policy.
Mr Gbajabiamila also questioned the reason the CBN governor stayed out of the country for two weeks despite the critical situation of the country.
He ruled that the CBN must appear or in the alternative a deputy governor of the Bank represent him.
“I don’t want to see it as disrespect at all. I don’t think you (Mr Emefiele) can be out of the country for so long. My suggestion would be that we invite…let us agree.
“What is important is that this House gets a proper full briefing, and I think it behoves the CBN governor, in accordance with the law, to brief this House.
“We will be requesting what that official assignment is that will keep the CBN governor away for almost two weeks. I will like to know the official assignment —at this critical point that will keep him away for two weeks…because this House will more than likely close on Thursday,” he said.
Mr Gbajabiamila consequently ruled that Mr Emefiele must appear before the House on Thursday or in the alternative a deputy governor that is knowledgeable about the matter should appear in his place.