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Emefiele’s Tenure as CBN Governor Bites the Dust

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On Friday, June 9,  President Bola Tinubu suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor , Godwin Emefiele from office. He was subsequently arrested by officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) and taken into custody in the DSS office in Abuja. Emefiele who had served a first term of five years, had the second term renewed in 2019 and was due to complete this in June 2024. His term as CBN Governor has however, been very controversial. He had been accused of running the CBN in a very unprofessional manner. Bank customers complain that he carried over willful practices of commercial banks into the CBN. He had been appointed CBN Governor from his position as Managing Director of Zenith Bank, one of Nigeria’s largest commercial banks. Bank customers complained that commercial banks’ activities in exploiting charges on their accounts heightened under Emefiele. Rampant bank charges against customers’ accounts were rife ranging from SMS alert charge, stamp duty charge, ATM card maintenance charge, account maintenance charge, electronic transfer charge, cash deposit and withdrawal charges, etc.

The CBN Governor had also been accused on a macro level of inflicting damage to the banking sector. He allowed banks on a free rein of exploitation of customers’ deposits; he dabbled into politics and also joined the Executive arm of government in persecuting those the government accused of participation in the October 2020 #EndSARS protests. Some of the alleged ring leaders of the protests had their accounts frozen, with some of commercial banks penalised for providing banking services to these protesters. In blatant disregard of professionalism and the requirement of non-partisanship that his position demanded, Emefiele reportedly tried to run for the Office of President, with some fronts purchasing a nomination form for him to contest in the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC)  for the 2023 general elections.

For Emefiele, it would appear that no tears would be shed for his suspension by Tinubu. Lawyers however raised a concern that Tinubu should have acted in line with the legal provisions of section 11 of the CBN Act 2007, that requires that a CBN Governor may only be removed upon a vote of two-thirds of the Nigerian Senate. Lawyers contend that failure to respect this legal requirement for his removal perpetuates the impunity of Executive powers and violates due process. It is hoped that President Tinubu will take steps to comply with the legal requirements of the CBN Act by asking the Senate to approve Emefiele’s removal. No doubt, Godwin Emefiele would have a lot to say to prosecuting authorities on what role he played in pursuing what he called currency redesign project that inflicted incredible hardship on citizens, causing deaths of human beings and businesses, in that undertaking.