FG pledges to comply with Supreme Court ruling

The Federal Government has announced that it will comply with the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the suspension of the February 10th deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the exchange of old naira notes. The Supreme Court’s ruling, made on Wednesday, put a halt to the expiration of the old naira notes which was due to take place today.

The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, confirmed in an interview with Arise TV yesterday that the government will obey the ruling of the Supreme Court suspending the February 10th deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the exchange of old naira notes.

However, he stated that the government is hopeful that the ex parte ruling, which is set to expire on Wednesday, February 15th, 2023, will be overturned. According to Malami, the CBN, which is an indispensable party in the matter, was not joined in the case and therefore, the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to make a decision.

Malami emphasized that the government’s decision to comply with the Supreme Court’s order was based on their respect for the rule of law. He stated that although they are challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter, the interim order of the Supreme Court is binding and they will comply with it in accordance with the spirit of the rule of law.

“We have taken steps to file our objections challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter, on the grounds that when it comes to monetary policy, the Central Bank is an indispensable and necessary party. If the Central Bank is not joined as a party, the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction cannot be invoked. We will argue this perspective, and despite the circumstances, the ruling of the Supreme Court is binding, and we will comply with it wholeheartedly,” said Malami.

Yesterday, political parties and stakeholders were divided over the Supreme Court’s interim order directing the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not to discontinue the use of old Naira notes on February 10th.

While some, such as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Zamfara State Governor Bello Mattawalle, African Democratic Congress (ADC) presidential candidate Dumebi Kachikwu, and Lagos lawyer Femi Falana, among others, called for the President and the CBN to abide by the Supreme Court’s order, others were against it.

On the other hand, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), the umbrella body of registered political parties and associations in the country, warned against extending the deadline for using the old notes and accused the APC of coercing the CBN to purchase votes in the upcoming general elections.

Ask CBN to end current madness, APC tells Buhari

The APC has called on President Buhari to abide by the recent ruling of the Supreme Court, which suspended the February 10 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria for the exchange of old currency notes. The party asked the President to bring an end to the “current madness” that has caused suffering for the people.

In a statement, the APC National Vice Chairman for the North-West, Salihu Moh. Lukman, stated that the uncertainty faced by Nigerians, with elections approaching and a deliberate cash shortage imposed by the CBN, has led to frustration among the party. The Supreme Court’s interim order, obtained by Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara states, means that the old notes will continue to be legal tender even after February 10.

Lukman emphasized the importance of President Buhari demonstrating his democratic credentials and showing compassion for the plight of Nigerians. He added that the speculation of a “cabal” trying to manipulate the elections will not succeed, and urged the President to listen to the needs of the people.

As a proponent of democracy, President Buhari must demonstrate his commitment to it by heeding the recent Supreme Court ruling and instructing the CBN to put an end to the Naira scarcity crisis that has caused immense suffering to millions of Nigerians.

To move forward with democracy, all political parties must work on strengthening their internal structures to regulate the behavior of elected officials. The lack of decision-making power within political parties has only perpetuated the control of government institutions by a few individuals.

As members of the APC, our focus is not only to win the 2023 elections, but also to ensure that our future government, led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will be more attentive to the needs of the people and our fellow party leaders.

The reality is that only a small portion of Nigerians have access to banking services, with many rural areas lacking bank branches or cash centers. With the limited number of ATMs in the country, it is crucial for the government to address this issue and make banking services more accessible to the people.

The need for extra measures to reinforce the country’s banking system in light of the new policy has been highlighted by recent data. In order to facilitate the exchange of old notes, especially in areas without bank branches or ATMs, contingency plans must be put in place to expand the banking infrastructure. The closure of 234 branches and 649 ATMs by Nigeria’s banks, as reported by the International Monetary Fund in November 2021, should have served as a warning that the new policy would not be successful under the existing conditions.

Despite this, the CBN and the Federal Government persist in their belief that the policy can succeed with a weak banking system. As a result, both the old and new notes are now scarce throughout the country and even those with bank accounts can’t access their funds. With the approach of the elections, the vulnerability of the Nigerian people is being exploited.

There are concerns about the impact of the cash squeeze and fuel scarcity on the election, with speculation that it could lead to unrest and a possible postponement. Some believe that these conditions are being created to bring about a so-called government of national unity. The situation also raises questions about internal sabotage within the APC and opposition to the candidacy of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

APC using court to arm-twist CBN to buy votes – CNPP

The CNPP, disagreeing with the ruling party APC, has accused them of trying to sabotage the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) monetary policy. According to the CNPP’s Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, the APC’s actions “seeking to ambush the naira redesign policy of the CBN is a plot to retain the old naira notes for the purpose of vote-buying.” The CNPP believes that the APC is afraid of losing in the 2023 general elections and is therefore trying to kill the CBN’s policy that could prevent the use of illicit funds during elections.

The CNPP also pointed out that the APC has made the citizens believe that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, is their enemy, while the collaboration between some members of the APC and commercial banks has led to hoarding of the redesigned naira notes. The CNPP accused the APC of not being ready for free, fair and credible elections in 2023 and using the Supreme Court to coerce the Federal Government and the monetary agency into submission to thwart the CBN’s cashless policy. The CNPP has urged security and anti-graft agencies to do more to ensure that illicit funds are not used during the upcoming elections.

“The CNPP is therefore afraid that if the Supreme Court continues to allow itself to be a willing instrument of destabilisation ahead of forthcoming elections, Nigerians will lose the current enthusiasm and faith in the political process.

“This could be a recipe for a crisis which could unnecessarily heat up the polity.

“President Buhari has thus far shown his readiness to ensure free and fair elections and it will be a national calamity for the courts to be willing tools in the hands of politicians to disrupt the ongoing process.”

Any opposition to a Supreme Court decision is not acceptable to us, NNPP

However, the NNPP said that any opposition to the Supreme Court order on the old naira notes swap deadline is not acceptable to it as a party.

Reacting to the APC call on President Buhari to obey the Supreme Court, National Publicity Secretary of the NNPP, Major Agbo said: “The position of our party is still the same. It is not a bad policy but it’s ill-timed, there are not enough measures in place and the level of enlightenment is very low.

“However any opposition to a Supreme Court decision is not acceptable to us because the incoming  NNPP is already considering reopening the window for people to be able to swap their naira notes.”

Source: Vanguard News

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