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Reps fume as Emefiele fails to appear over CBN’s cash withdrawal policy

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The house of representatives has again rescheduled the appearance of Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), over the new cash withdrawal policy.

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.

At the plenary session on Tuesday, Emefiele, again, through a letter signed by Edward Adamu, CBN deputy governor, corporate services, said he was not yet back in the country.

THE DEBATE

Femi Gbajamiamila, speaker of the house, said the invitation should be rescheduled to Thursday while wondering why the CBN governor was out of the country for over two weeks “at this critical time”.

“At this point, we will be requesting to find out what that official assignment is that keeps the CBN governor away for almost two weeks,” he said.

“I would love to know what that official assignment is at this critical time in Nigeria that will keep him away for two weeks.”

Abdulganiyu Olododo, a lawmaker from Kwara, raised a point of order saying the CBN governor may not be available on Thursday.

“You said the CBN governor was out of the country and you’re picking another day — on Thursday. How are we sure that he’s going to be available this very Thursday?

Ndudi Elumelu, the minority leader, said the house had already taken a position on the cash withdrawal policy, and that Emefiele is expected to implement the lawmakers’ decision.

“The house in the interim had taken a position. The issue of him coming was just to fulfil all righteousness,” he said.

Elumelu said whether Emefiele honours “the invitation or does not come, we have passed a resolution asking him to suspend the policy”.

In his ruling, Gbajabiamila said if the CBN governor is “unavoidably” unavailable on Thursday, a high-ranking deputy should represent him.

“What is important is that this house gets a full proper briefing and I think it behoves on the CBN governor in accordance with the law to brief this house,” he said.

“If for any reason it is verified that he is unavoidably out of the country on Thursday, [he should] ask his deputy governor or anyone who is well equipped to fully brief this house so that we do not carry this to next year.”

THE MOTION

On December 8, the green chamber asked the apex bank to suspend the policy on weekly cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities.

The lawmakers also summoned Emefiele to appear before them to be grilled over the policy scheduled to take effect on January 9, 2023.

In a memo issued and signed by Haruna Mustafa, director of banking supervision, the apex bank had 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.

The CBN also directed that only N200 and lower denominations should be loaded into banks’ ATMs.

The row over Emefiele’s snub of the green chamber comes hours after a federal high court in Abuja declined an application by the Department of State Services (DSS) to arrest and detain him.

The court had said there was no concrete evidence to substantiate the claim that the CBN governor was involved in terrorism financing and economic crimes.

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Stallion Nigeria debunks owing GTB N13 billion

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Stallion Nigeria Limited has denied owing Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) N13 billion.

Reacting to reports in a statement signed by Samar Sapre, chief financial officer of Stallion Nigeria, the company said: “Our attention has been drawn to an article circulating around in the media alleging that Stallion is indebted to GTB to the tune of N13 billion. The publication is false and the works of mischief makers as no such debt exists.

“Stallion has been in court with GTB since 2019 over allegations and claims with Stallion winning against GTB at the Court of Appeal, Nigeria. The matter is yet in court and to that extent remains subjudice.

“As a law-abiding corporate entity with faith in the Nigerian judiciary, we refrain from commenting on a matter that is subjudice except to clarify that the publication is false, mischievous and a ploy to smear the unblemished reputation of Stallion.

“We implore the general public to ignore the publication as there is no such court verdict existing anywhere as alleged in the publication. The matter is still pending in court.”

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Kaduna CAN chairman calls for arrest of bank officials over cash scarcity

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Joseph Hayab, chairman of the Kaduna chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has called for the arrest and prosecution of bank officials hoarding the new naira notes.

His statement came amid the scarcity of the new naira notes across the country — a situation that is heightening tension and causing hardship for Nigerians.

Hayab, who spoke in Kaduna on Sunday, commended President Muhammadu Buhari on the direction of the policy aimed at deterring vote buying.

The cleric said the Central Bank of Niger(CBN) should do everything possible to make the currency available to end the hardship.

“Notwithstanding CAN believe that despite the temporary pains Nigerians face, the citizenry is prepared to support the president on the matter of the deadline, especially if it would assist to ease the tension in the country,” he said.

“Therefore, managers of banks who are found to hoard the new naira notes to create artificial scarcity, but are behind the public arena helping money-bag politicians to get the new notes, set the public up against the CBN’s new policy.

“Such banks and bankers should be investigated, and if found culpable, be made to face the wrath of the law.

“CAN will continue to sensitize and mobilize our faithful to support any programme which results could bring about good service delivery for a better nation.”

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‘Bank officials sell naira notes to us’ — PoS operators explain increase in charges

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Point of sale (PoS) operators have claimed that bank officials sell cash (both old and new naira notes) to them.

In separate interviews with NAN in Abuja on Friday, some of the operators said they pay an exorbitant fee which depends on the amount withdrawn.

To make up for the extra expense, they explained that they had no choice but to increase the charges paid by customers.

They further appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to penalise banks involved in the act.

An operator along Nyanya-NNPC road, who preferred anonymity, said she paid the extra charge to keep her business going.

”I paid a very high amount to get this money that I am giving to customers. If you look around here, other operators did not open,” she said.

”The woman (bank official) that I collect money from even increased the money today because she said that cash is scarce and she kept it for me because I called her earlier to do so.

”I pay according to the amount I collect. Sometimes, I pay as high as N5,000 for N50,000 to N70,000 that I collect from her.

”I charge N500 for every N5,000 withdrawn and N1000 for every N10000 withdrawn for me to recover what I spent to collect the money.”

Also speaking, Nnedi Ikonye, a PoS operator along Lugbe, said she paid N3,000 for withdrawing N65,000 in a bank.

”I was asked to pay N3,000 for the N65,000 that I withdrew from a bank and that is because I know someone in that bank,” Ikonye explained.

“That is just a token compared to what my colleagues are paying. They pay more because they don’t know people in the bank.”

Alphonsus Idah, a PoS operator at Mararaba market, urged the CBN to impose sanctions against banks who persist in selling cash to their customers.

This, he explained, would stop the untold hardship faced by citizens.

Another PoS operator, who pleaded anonymity, alleged that bank officials usually withdraw money for their clients.

“In some banks, ATM will not work even though they are loaded with cash,” the operator said.

“During close of work, the bankers will turn the machine on and queue to withdraw from the machine.

“The annoying thing is that one banker can hold like 10 different ATM cards and will withdraw from all of them. This is frustrating.”

In a bid to address long queues at automated teller machines (ATMs), the CBN had directed banks to commence payment of redesigned notes over the counter, with a daily limit of N20,000.

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