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Supreme Court stops CBN from enforcing February 10 deadline for old Naira notes as legal tender

Old N200, N500 and N1000 Notes

*The Supreme Court of Nigeria’s ruling Tuesday, February 8, 2023, restraining the Federal Government from implementing the February 10 deadline for old notes, implies the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain valid as legal tender after Friday in the West African country

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to legal fireworks, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, in Abuja, FCT, has restrained the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from implementing the February 10, 2023, new deadline for the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes to phase out these denominations as a legal tender in the country.

ConsumerConnect reports trio of Northern states, including Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara, in a motion ex-parte filed February 3, by their lawyer, AbdulHakeem Mustapha (SAN), had prayed the Supreme Court to stop the ongoing implementation of the CBN Naira redesign policy.

A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice John Okoro, in a unanimous ruling Tuesday, February 8, 2023, granted an interim injunction restraining the Federal Government, CBN, commercial banks, and so on, from enforcing the February 10 deadline for the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes to stop being a legal tender in the economy.

The Court also ruled that the Nigerian Government, CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the deadline, pending the determination of a notice on notice on in respect of the issue February 15 this year.

In view of this ruling, the old Naira notes will continue to be legal tenders in Nigeria.

‘Why Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara Approached Supreme Court’ -SAN

After the ruling, the lawyer to the three state government, Mustapha said Zamfara, Kogi and Kaduna dragged the Federal Government and the CBN to the highest court because the policy is causing hardship to Nigerians, especially those in the rural areas.

Photo Collage of Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of CBN and new Naira notes 

The legal counsel said: “We invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court when there is a dispute between the state government and the Federal Government.

“It is one of the few occasions where the Supreme Court act as the original jurisdiction.

“So, we invoked the powers of the Supreme Court to hear this application.”

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also explained that “the reason for it is that as well-intentioned as this policy of the Federal Government on this naira redesign, it is causing hardship all over the country.

“As we can all see, banks are being harassed, Nigerians are suffering, especially the downtrodden, even in the urban areas they are having difficulty, but it is more excruciating in the rural areas.”

Mustapha further noted: “So, the three state governments – Zamfara, Kaduna and Kogi deemed it fit for us to invoke the powers of the Supreme Court to intervene.”

How legal fireworks started

It is recalled that the fireworks over the February 10 deadline for the validity of three old Naira notes assumed a feesh dimension Monday this week, as five political parties and three state governments began legal battles.

While the Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara governments dragged the Federal government before the Supreme Court, seeking an extension to the February 10 deadline, five political parties took the matter to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court and secured an order barring the Federal Government and the apex bank from any extension of the deadline.

The CBN October 26, 2022, had announced its plan to redesign the three banknotes.

Presidential intervention in new Naira scarcity crisis

President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently unveiled the redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 notes November 23, 2022, while the apex bank fixed a January 31 deadline for the validity of the old notes.

The CBN also pegged its weekly cash withdrawal limits to N500,000 for individuals and N5million for corporate firms.

With cries by many Nigerians, the apex bank extended the deadline from January 31 to February 10, saying it got the approval of the President.

The National Assembly (NASS) asked for a six-month extension of the policy, amid scathing criticisms by governors, lawmakers and stalwarts of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, including the flagbearer of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; former Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa; Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; among others.

Buhari, last Friday after a meeting with some APC Governors asked for seven days to make a major decision on the policy.

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