A court ruling was issued yesterday by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Wuse Zone 2, prohibiting President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from extending or altering the February 10 deadline for the usage of old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes.
The ruling came on the same day that the government of Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara states appeared before the Supreme Court. The reaction of the presidency was not available as efforts to obtain a statement proved unsuccessful. The court ruling was a result of a lawsuit filed by Action Alliance, Action Peoples Party, Allied Peoples Movement, and National Rescue Movement marked FCT/HC/CV/2234/2023.
The court’s ruling, delivered by Justice Eleojo Enenche, stated that the defendants, including banks and agents, must not alter the existing deadline for using the old banknotes until the case is heard and determined.
Court Orders Heads of Banks to Explain Failure to Disburse New Banknotes, Threatens Prosecution for Financial Sabotage
The court has issued an order requiring the heads and CEOs of 27 commercial banks to explain why they should not be arrested and prosecuted for economic and financial sabotage of Nigeria. This is due to their alleged hoarding, withholding, and non-disbursement of new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes, which are the legal tender of Nigeria, to customers despite receiving supplies from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its governor, Godwin Emefiele. The interim order is for a seven-day period and the matter has been adjourned until February 14 for further hearing. In addition to President Buhari and CBN, the 27 commercial banks were named as respondents and defendants in the case.
Governments of Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara Take FG to Supreme Court
The governments of Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara states brought the Federal Government to the Supreme Court due to the negative impact of the CBN’s naira redesign policy on their residents. The Attorneys-General of Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara states are seeking an interim injunction from the Supreme Court to prevent the Federal Government (FG) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from discontinuing the use of old N200, N500, and N1,000 denominations as legal tender on February 10.
The states are trying to halt the full implementation of the new naira notes policy. The states have invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act and are being represented by a team of lawyers led by AbdulHakeem Mustapha, SAN. They are asking the court to temporarily stop the FG, through the CBN, commercial banks, or its agents, from ending the use of the old denominations as legal tender on February 10. The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, is named as the sole respondent in the case.
The three states are challenging the Federal Government’s de-monetization policy as being unconstitutional, violating provisions of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, and failing to provide reasonable notice. They are seeking a declaration from the Supreme Court that the policy is not in compliance with the Constitution and existing laws. Additionally, they are asking for a suspension of the de-monetization until the Federal Government complies with legal requirements. The Attorney-General of the Federation is named as the sole respondent in the case. The states also claimed that since the announcement of the new policy, there has been a severe shortage of new naira notes in their states.
The states, through their Attorneys-General, claim that the CBN’s de-monetization policy under the directive of the President is not in line with the Constitution, Central Bank of Nigeria Act, and other relevant laws. They argue that the three-month notice given by the Federal Government and the CBN for the old banknotes to no longer be accepted as legal tender is a violation of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, which requires reasonable notice. The states want the Supreme Court to declare that the Federal Government and the CBN have no powers to set a deadline for redeeming the old banknotes. They also ask for the immediate suspension of the policy until it complies with the law.
The affidavit filed by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Kaduna State, Aisha Dikko, states that the shortage of new naira notes and the policy’s implementation have caused serious difficulties for residents in the states. Dikko notes that not all transactions can be conducted electronically and that many people still require cash for goods and services. She says that the majority of people in rural areas have no access to banks and have not been able to deposit their savings. She also states that there is growing unrest among the people, and the states must protect their citizens and prevent a breakdown of law and order.
A socio-political group, Social Rehabilitation Grace and Supportive Initiative has taken the Central Bank of Nigeria to court seeking an extension of the expiry date for the old Naira notes from February 10, 2023, to a six-month timeline. The group is also asking for an interim injunction to stop the enforcement of the February 10th deadline for the old N200, N500, and N1000 currency notes to cease being legal tender. The court is being asked to extend the submission of the old currency notes by a minimum of six months.
14 out of the 18 registered political parties participating in the general elections have threatened to withdraw their participation if the cash withdrawal limit and Naira redesign policies are canceled or suspended. The Forum of Chairmen of Nigerian Political Parties and Forum of Candidates stated that the policies must be fully implemented without shifting the deadline of February 10th, 2023, to have a credible and fair general election. The group claims to have intercepted credible information about a well-financed plan to instigate violence and unrest aimed at undermining the President and causing a shift in the election date. They are calling for the State Security Service to put those responsible on the watch list.
Source: Vanguard News