In a surprising development, President Bola Tinubu has issued the immediate suspension of Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank Governor.
Late Friday night, Willie Bassey, the Director of Information at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, released a statement confirming the suspension. The decision comes as part of an ongoing investigation into the operations of the CBN and the proposed reforms in the financial sector, the statement revealed.
Pending the conclusion of the investigation and the implementation of reforms, Emefiele has been instructed to hand over his duties to the Deputy Governor (Operations Directorate), who will serve as the acting Central Bank Governor.
Emefiele took office in 2014, succeeding Lamido Sanusi, who was controversially suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan shortly before the end of his tenure. However, during his tenure, Emefiele faced criticism from Nigerians for his handling of the economy, his involvement in politics, and the controversial policies implemented by the apex bank.
Under Emefiele’s leadership, the Nigerian currency, the naira, experienced a significant decline, with its value reaching over N750 per dollar in the parallel market and N469.50 per dollar at the spot market as of Thursday. This marked the lowest value ever recorded in the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window.
The CBN also faced challenges in managing the nation’s inflation rate, which stood at 22.2 percent in May, according to official statistics.
Notably, Emefiele encountered allegations last year when the State Security Service (SSS) accused him of financing terrorism and engaging in fraudulent activities. However, a court rejected the SSS’s request for an arrest warrant due to insufficient evidence.
Furthermore, Emefiele faced backlash for his involvement in partisan politics, as he sought the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). This raised concerns about the governor’s impartiality and the autonomy of the CBN.
In late 2022, the CBN introduced a naira redesign policy, which was met with widespread criticism and resulted in chaos across the country. The policy triggered protests and disruptions in banking operations, causing significant dissatisfaction among Nigerians.
During the election season, allegations arose that the CBN’s policies, such as cash withdrawal restrictions, were deliberately aimed at hindering the chances of certain candidates, including APC candidate Tinubu.
Amidst the controversies, prominent individuals and civil society figures called for Emefiele’s arrest and prosecution. Leading investigative medium, PREMIUM TIMES, also joined in the demand, criticizing the anti-people cash policies imposed by the CBN and its failure to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling on old naira notes.
The suspension of Governor Emefiele marks a significant development in the ongoing scrutiny of the CBN and the efforts to implement reforms in Nigeria’s financial sector.
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