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Citizen drags CBN, Emefiele to Court for incompetence, illegality

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In what can be termed a peculiar legal case, an Abuja-based businessman, Sesugh Akume, has filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, asking the court to determine whether the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele and the apex bank itself, have not been grossly incompetent by failing to provide price control, a strong Naira, and a stable exchange rate.

The suit is also asking the court to stop Mr. Emefiele and the CBN from further lending to the federal government under ways and means until the trillions of naira owed are fully refunded.

Godwin Emefiele, Nigeria’s CBN Governor

Akume wants the Federal High Court to rule that the defendants should never lend beyond the prescribed 5% of the previous year’s revenues.

According to the plaintiff, the principal duties of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are to ensure price control, a strong naira, and a stable exchange rate.

He complains that under Godwin Emefiele as CBN governor since June 2014, only the reverse has been consistently achieved.

Akume continues:

“Inflation (increase in the price of goods and services) has gone through the roof (from 7% in 2014 to 18% presently) as against the role of the CBN to stabilise and preferably lower it. Between May 2020 and June this year alone, the naira has been devalued by the CBN thrice (as the Bank said Wednesday last week, 8 September, that it was not bothered about the valuation of the naira!). As of the time Mr Emefiele resumed at the CBN, the official naira/US dollar exchange rate was 155 naira/US dollar, today it has been between 407 and 412 naira/US dollar in the past 3 months (and exchanged at 535 Naira/US dollar as of Friday 10 September) the worst in the history of the country.”

Sesugh Akume

“To worsen matters, the CBN under Mr Emefiele has been engaged in the illegality of lending to the federal government more than the prescribed 5% of the government’s revenues of the previous year. In 2020, for instance, the Bank lent the government 2.8 trillion Naira which is 62% of 2019 revenues! The Bank further lends to the federal government even when it is yet to refund what was previously borrowed (presently, the federal government owes the CBN 15.51 trillion Naira, 14.86 trillion of this under the Buhari regime) contrary to the express provisions of section 38 of the CBN Act,” the plaintiff states.

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Akume avers that “some of the bad policies of the CBN under Mr Emefiele” have caused high inflation, a weakened naira, a poor exchange rate, and instability in the economy.

The plaintiff goes on to state that instead of focusing on the job of delivering on the mandate of the CBN, Mr. Emefiele had used the CBN as a political tool, sealing the bank accounts of #EndSARS protesters over false, bogus and malicious charges, which were “not in any way the business of the CBN”.

“By engaging in extralegal and ultra vires activities to please the regime and be its easy tool, Mr Emefiele has made the Bank lose its independence (and credibility), contrary to section 1(3) of the CBN Act,” Akume said.

No date has been fixed for the hearing.

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