Naira redesign targets looted funds — EFCC chair


abdulrasheed bawaThe Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, has said the decision to redesign the naira is aimed at returning hidden public funds.

Bawa stated this in an interview with Deutsche Welle DW Hausa Service, adding that the government wanted people who hid the funds to deposit them in bank accounts.

The EFCC chair insisted that there was no political motive behind the idea.

He noted that the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had evaluated and accepted the advice put forward by the Central Bank of Nigeria on the redesign of the naira.

He said, “These public funds were embezzled and we want them to return them; we have not told anyone not to bring this money out. What the government said was to deposit the money into bank accounts, or else sanctions may follow.

“The redesigning of the naira in law is expected to be done after every eight years; Nigeria has 20 years without redesigning, almost 80% of the naira is not in the bank and the CBN is in the hands of people; so how can the government succeed? How can a country get 25% of foreign exchange which is a benefit from its currency in 10 days?

“There is no political motive behind this; some people siphoned and hid public funds and that is why we want them to bring them out.

“We are also calling on Nigerians and even non-Nigerians that all channels are accessible; if anyone knows someone who hid suspicious money, they should alert us and we will investigate it; when we investigate the money and get it, the whistleblower also gets 5 per cent.”

According to the EFCC boss, when the issue of the redesign of the naira came up, the dollar rose to N880, but later crashed to N680.

“It is just a mirage and maybe with this, the dollar may crash completely to even N200, who knows?” he added.

…Senate debates policy

Meanwhile, the Senate has promised to provide legislative support for the Central Bank of Nigeria for the success of the policy.

The plenary presided over by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, on Wednesday, came to this resolution after a rowdy session.

The debate on the policy was a sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Uba Sani (APC Kaduna Central).

In the prayers to his motion, Sani, who chairs the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions, urged the Senate to provide legislative support for the policy, citing Orders 41 and 51.

He also pleaded with the red chamber to mandate his committee to embark on aggressive oversight of the policy slated to take full effect on January 31, 2023.

However, the plenary became tense when senators Ali Ndume, Abiodun Olujimi, Betty Apiafi, Barau Jibrin, Chukwuka Utazi, and Orji Kalu, who supported the CBN policy, suggested an extension of the deadline for compliance.

Kalu particularly requested that the Senate invite the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to throw more light on the policy, while he should be persuaded to extend the deadline to April 30, 2023.

Meanwhile, Senator Gabriel Suswam disagreed and was quoted as saying, “While we all agree this is an exclusive prerogative of the CBN to design our money, my worry is that the CBN governor, who is seeking our support, has in the past shown utmost disrespect for this chamber.

“The President has already approved, and they are already printing, so what are we talking about here? If the CBN had wanted our support, one would have expected that there would have been proper consultation. Let him go ahead and do what he is doing.”

Also, Senator Bassey Akpan stressed the need to support the CBN governor, adding that there should be no discussion on the matter.

“The volume of naira notes outside the CBN can never augur well for our economy. We must support the CBN,” Akpan stated.

Suswam and Akpan’s submissions did not go down well with those seeking an extension of the deadline, as the chamber turned rowdy.

Senator Ndume previously stated that there were only five banks in Borno State’s 27 local government areas since the insurgency began.

“It is very important to ask the CBN to come up with ways on how to handle the situation that most of our rural populace is facing in terms of cash keeping,” Ndume added.

Omo-Agege brought calm to the floor after 15 minutes of heated arguments among the senators.

He stated that it was the prerogative of the CBN to redesign the naira and set a deadline for compliance.

The Senate then offered to provide legislative support for the policy.

It also directed the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee to conduct an investigation.

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