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NNPC’s $3 billion loan slammed as “illegal” by human rights lawyer Femi Falana



Prominent legal expert and advocate for human rights, Femi Falana, has expressed strong criticism regarding the actions taken by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited in obtaining a $3 billion loan for crude repayment.

NNPC Limited released a statement through social media outlining that the purpose of this loan is to “immediately provide funds that will assist NNPC Ltd. in supporting the Federal Government’s ongoing initiatives to stabilize the exchange rate market through fiscal and monetary reforms.”

However, during a televised discussion on ChannelsTV, which our correspondent closely followed, Falana raised significant doubts about the legal foundation that allows an entity like NNPC Limited, which lacks government status, to secure a loan on behalf of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He stressed the need to uphold the rule of law and ensure that all financial dealings align with established legal norms, in order to promote transparency and accountability in financial transactions.

“The NNPC Limited is no longer a parastatal of the government. I cannot find any provision that allows them to take a loan for the Central Bank of Nigeria. This illegality must stop in the interest of the country,” Falana said.

He further condemned the “dollarization” of the Nigerian economy, citing Section 20 of the CBN Act, which designates the Naira as the sole legal tender within Nigeria.

“Section 20 sub-section of the CBN Act provides that the only legal tender in Nigeria shall be the currency notes issued by the CBN, which is the Naira. Section 20, sub-section 5 provides that anybody who spends any other currency in Nigeria without the approval of the CBN has committed an offence and shall be prosecuted, the penalty is six months imprisonment.

“You ask yourself, why do the Nigerian government allow properties to be sold in dollars, rents to be collected in dollars, and some school fees to be paid in dollars? Everybody is looking for dollars, you want to go to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, or Jerusalem or even to pray weekly in Mecca, you look for dollars.

“Everybody attending conferences abroad look for dollars as estacode. To buy all manner of goods, you look for dollars to import them, including goods that can be produced in Nigeria. If I have my way, I would sell oil in naira. It is ridiculous for you as a country to sell your products in dollars. These are the problems. For me, the government is not addressing them,” he noted.

Falana called on the Nigerian government to take decisive actions to alleviate the hardships faced by Nigerians due to the removal of fuel subsidies.