By Our Correspondent
Human rights lawyer Femi Falana said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has been dragged to court over the floating of Naira currency.
Falana disclosed this while speaking in an interview on Channels Television on Friday.
Recall that the apex bank reportedly told Deposit Money Banks to freely float the naira against the dollar and other international currencies in June.
The policy was announced at a time when the naira traded between 730 and 755 to the dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window.
But, Falana described the decision of the CBN to float the naira as ‘illegal’ and being challenged in court.
He said, “There’s no provision for floating the naira. It’s illegal. You say, ‘The value of the naira will be determined by market forces.’ That is not there in the law,” he said.
“I’ve had to sue the Central Bank of Nigeria at the Federal High Court because Section 16 of the Central Bank Act has imposed a duty on the Central Bank to fix and determine the rate of the naira vis-a-vis other currency,” he added.
As of Friday, the CBN puts the exchange rate between N744 and N746.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN said the CBN Act made it compulsory for the apex bank to fix the exchange rate.
He noted that Section 20(1) of the CBN Act provides that the only legal tender in Nigeria shall be the currency notes issued by the Central Bank: “only the naira.”
Section 20 (5) of the Act also provides that anybody who spends any other currency in Nigeria without the approval of the central bank has committed an offence “and shall be prosecuted”, he explained, adding, “The penalty is six months’ imprisonment.”
Falana argued further that as long as government officials are not prepared to strengthen the naira and make it the only legal tender in Nigeria, “we’re not going to go far”.
On the Federal Government’s approval of N5 billion for each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to procure food items for distribution to the poor in their respective states, Falana said the measures were diversionary.
He said, “They are temporary measures. Some of them are quite diversionary and the people in government have not addressed the root of the crisis, which is the dollarisation of the economy,” he said.
“Whatever palliatives that are announced will be eaten up by dollarisation of the economy,” he added.