Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Human rights activist, Femi Falana, yesterday faulted the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under President Bola Tinubu to float the Naira, describing it as illegal as it is being challenged in court.
He explained that there is nowhere in any economy that the currency is allowed to float as in the case of the Nigeria’s Naira
He further said that even with the $3,000,000,000 loan granted the Central Bank would soon be of no effect as the United States Dollar would swallow up the loan.
Falana called for the reintroduction of the currency swap between Nigeria and China as a measure to increase the value of the Naira.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who was on a television programme monitored in Abuja, said the CBN Act made it compulsory for the apex bank to fix the exchange rate.
According to the human rights activist, “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.
“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-à-vis other currencies.”
Falana stressed 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.”
He said, “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.”
He 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”.
Falana, who commented on the federal government’s approval of N5 billion for each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), argued that the measures were diversionary.
The National Economic Council (NEC) had said that this enabled states and FCT to procure food items for distribution to the poor in their respective states.
According to Falana, “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 stated.
He called for the banning of foreign conferences and suggested that Nigeria’s embassies across the world should be allowed to attend the conferences and send their reports back to the country, explaining that this would help shore up the value of the Naira.