The lawmakers react to criticism that they rubber stamped the controversial policy
The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, back-pedalled on its position on the controversial introduction of Islamic banking to Nigeria, denying that it has taken a position yet on the matter.
The lawmakers had summoned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Lamido Sanusi, last week amid controversies trailing the proposed non-interest banking, as well as the daily cash withdrawal limits planned by the apex bank.
The legislators drew criticism as they repeatedly clapped and applauded Sanusi’s explanations which lasted nearly two hours, expressing their satisfaction and offering to ask no questions.
In a desperate bid to calm the mounting uproar after the meeting, the House, on Tuesday, denied backing the introduction of Islamic banking, saying applauding the CBN boss did not translate to issuing and approval.
“We have not endorsed Islamic banking as widely reported,” said the chairman House adhoc committee on Media, Michael Bamidele, at a media conference convened to discuss the issue yesterday. “You all are familiar with the procedures the House adopts a position. There was no motion, there was no resolution and therefore there was no decision.”
The position of the House, as reported in the media, has set off a string of backlash as lawmakers come under blistering attacks from several organisations.
The House convened a closed door meeting yesterday to discuss the issue on the first day it reconvened since the event. Bamidele said there was no House rule that demanded that questions to be put out for every such appearance as Sanusi’s, adding that the House was satisfied after Sanusi’s explanations on Thursday.
“We are not pretending to be a perfect parliament,” he said. “We are the parliament of a democracy that is nascent, we are still learning. That is why the rules of the house are amenable, we will continue to learn as we evolve.”
Anambra government denies taking loan
Meanwhile, the Anambra State Government, named by the CBN governor as one of the borrowers from Islamic Development Bank, has refuted the claim in a letter sent to the House yesterday.
In a two-page undated letter signed by the state’s Commissioner of Finance, Eze Echesi, the state government said it never received or contacted the Islamic Development Bank.
It explained that the state was only one of three states, others namely, Yobe, Gombe, which qualified for federal government food programme assistance in 2007/2008.
“The responsibility for identifying the source and the sourcing of such funding is and has remained that of the federal government who could have obtained such funds from either Islamic Development Bank or any bother bank and from anywhere,” the state explained.