Femi Falana, a prominent human rights lawyer in Nigeria, has revealed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) only printed 402 billion naira ($893 million) out of the 3.2 trillion naira ($7.1 billion) it collected from various sources during the recent currency redesign exercise.
This is about just 13% of the money recalled by the Central Bank
Falana made the revelation while speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday. He said he had to take legal action under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the information from the CBN.
The currency redesign exercise, which the CBN announced in October 2022, was aimed at curbing counterfeiting and terrorism financing. However, it led to a severe shortage of new naira notes in circulation, which caused widespread hardship and economic disruption.
Falana criticized the CBN for failing to adequately print and distribute the new notes before the deadline for the old notes to be withdrawn. He also accused the bank of failing to be transparent about the amount of money it had printed.
“To my utter dismay, the central bank collected about 3.2 trillion from customers and others, but the bank only printed 402 billion naira,” Falana said.
The CBN has not commented on Falana’s allegations. However, in a statement released in February 2023, the bank said that it had printed and distributed 1.9 trillion naira in new notes as of January 31.
The currency redesign exercise has been widely criticized by economists and businesses alike. Many argue that it was poorly executed and that it has had a negative impact on the economy.
Falana’s revelation has raised further questions about the CBN’s handling of the currency redesign exercise and its transparency. It is also likely to fuel speculation about the motives behind the exercise.
Implications of Falana’s Revelation
Falana’s revelation is significant for several reasons. First, it highlights the CBN’s failure to plan for and execute the currency redesign exercise adequately. The fact that the bank only printed 13% of the currency it recalled suggests that it was either unprepared for the scale of the exercise or that it underestimated the demand for new notes.
Second, Falana’s revelation raises concerns about the CBN’s transparency. The bank has been accused of being secretive about the currency redesign exercise, and its refusal to comment on Falana’s allegations is likely to further erode public trust.
Third, Falana’s revelation raises questions about the motives behind the currency redesign exercise. The CBN has stated that the exercise was aimed at curbing counterfeiting and terrorism financing. However, some critics have argued that the exercise was politically motivated and that it was designed to target the opposition.
Falana’s revelation is likely to have a number of implications for the Nigerian economy. The shortage of new naira notes has already had a negative impact on businesses and consumers. Falana’s revelation is likely to further erode confidence in the economy and make it more difficult for businesses to operate.
The CBN’s handling of the currency redesign exercise has been widely criticized, and Falana’s revelation is likely to add to the pressure on the bank to be more transparent and accountable.