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23
February
2022

Lawmaker disagrees over arrest warrant for CBN Governor, Emefiele

There was a clash between members of the House of Representatives Joint Committees on Customs & Excise, and Banking and Currency, yesterday, over a decision to issue a warrant of arrest for Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The warrant was issued on Emefiele after the Chairman of the House Committee on Customs and Excise, Leke Abejide, decided that he had refused to answer the lawmakers’ summons.

According to a Nairametrics source, some members of the committee, opposed the suggestion, insisting that they must be given an opportunity to express their views on the matter and vote on the next line of action.

  • On January 27, 2022, the House of Representatives requested that the CBN halts the electronic evaluation and invoicing policy that had just been implemented in the import and export chain, warning that it could have a negative impact on revenue collection by the Nigeria Customs Service.
  • Emefiele was scheduled to testify before the committee about the policy’s impact on Customs’ revenue objective for 2022.
  • Following the failure of a call for the CBN Governor’s appearance, several lawmakers said that the CBN Governor had always refused invitations from the National Assembly and that he was being shielded by some unknown lawmakers.
  • The CBN’s action has become a contentious issue given that Niarametrics reported that port activities at Tin-Can Island and the Ports & Terminal Multipurpose Limited slowed down, following the withdrawal of services by agents and freight forwarders working at the two ports.
  • The resolution was based on Abejide’s motion titled ‘Call on the Central Bank of Nigeria to Suspend the Implementation of the new Guidelines on the Introduction of e-evaluator, e-invoicing for imports and exports businesses in Nigeria.’
  • Abejide, who moved the motion, recalled that the CBN published a circular on imports and exports business rules in Nigeria on January 21, 2022, with Reference Number TED/FEM/FPC/PUB/01/001, which was to take effect 10 days later, on February 1, 2022.
  • The lawmaker had said, “Sudden monetary/fiscal circular hurriedly or half-hazard implemented often leads to policy summersault, hence major policy change such as this, a grace period of 90 days is usually expected for transactions to run their full course to avoid distortion in the economy and price distortions of trade.”
  • Adopting the motion, the House had urged the CBN to “suspend the policy with immediate effect to enable adequate sensitization on the workability of the policy in all major ports of entry including seaports, airports and border stations.”
  • The lawmakers also invited the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to brief the Committee on Customs and Excise, with the assurances that the target revenue of N3.1tn given to the Nigeria Customs Service by the Federal Government of Nigeria, which the NCS announced to the media that they are targeting N4.2tn, will not be distorted by this sudden policy implementation.
  • Also, the House urged the CBN to give a 90 days timeline for subsequent new fiscal/monetary policy implementation to allow for adjustment in order to stabilise the economy.

Squabble in the Chamber

Presenting the matter once again, Abejide expressed his displeasure with Emefiele’s absence at the investigation hearing on Tuesday, saying that the parliament could not continue to tolerate it and that a warrant of arrest should be issued.

While some members of the committee objected to the suggestion, insisting that they be given an opportunity to express their opinions and vote on the next course of action, others claimed that the CBN governor had consistently ignored invitations from the National Assembly and was being shielded by some unnamed lawmakers.

During the ensuing squabble, a member, Sada Soli, pleaded for calm and requested an executive (closed-door) session.

After about 10 minutes behind closed door, the members continued with Abejide stating “Please, everything has been withdrawn behind closed doors and we resolved to withdraw the warrant of arrest earlier issued against the CBN governor. But if anyone tries to look down on the parliament, we will go ahead.

Abejide added that the CBN governor has asked for time to honour the summon as he was having meetings with some governors. He said Emefiele disclosed that he did not receive its second letter of invitation and assures that he will present at the next sitting.

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