Emefiele Suspended and Tinubu Initiates CBN Probe

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President Bola Tinubu has taken immediate action by suspending Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), amid an ongoing investigation and planned reforms in the financial sector. The suspension was announced by Willie Bassey, the Director of Information at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, in a statement released on Friday.

Emefiele has been instructed to hand over the responsibilities of his office to the Deputy Governor (Operations Directorate), Mr Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi, who will serve as the acting CBN governor during the investigation and reforms.

Although there were unconfirmed reports of Emefiele’s arrest by the Department of State Services (DSS), the DSS spokesman, Peter Afunaya, stated that he could not confirm the arrest. However, a reliable security source disclosed that Emefiele could have been arrested during the previous administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, suggesting that efforts are being made to locate him.

Under Section 11 of the CBN Act, 2007, the President has the power to terminate the appointment of the apex bank governor, provided it is supported by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. The Act also states that the governor, deputy governor, or director of the CBN can be removed if they hold positions as lawmakers or directors of banks.

Emefiele’s tenure as the CBN governor was marked by controversies such as the introduction of the naira redesign policy and allegations of terrorism financing and economic crime. The naira redesign policy faced opposition from the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, which caused tension and uncertainty. Furthermore, the cash swap programme implemented in various local government areas resulted in both old and new naira notes going out of circulation, leading to fuel scarcity and public dissatisfaction.

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Experts estimated that the failed naira redesign policy caused losses of around N20tn, with protests and destruction of commercial bank facilities. Prior to the naira redesign controversy, Emefiele faced calls for his sacking over his rumored political ambition and allegations of partisanship.

Economists and analysts expressed their expectations of Emefiele’s suspension, citing his poor management of the Nigerian economy. They emphasized the need for a thorough investigation and the appointment of a competent individual devoid of partisan affiliation to fill the position.

While some legal experts argued that the President’s suspension of Emefiele was within his constitutional rights, others raised concerns about the independence of the CBN and the potential implications for future governors.

In summary, President Tinubu’s suspension of Emefiele and initiation of a CBN probe indicate significant financial sector reforms underway. The decision follows a series of controversies surrounding Emefiele’s tenure as the CBN governor, and it is expected to bring about changes aimed at improving the Nigerian economy.

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