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Naira Redesign: Supreme Court rules old N200, N500, N1000 notes remain legal tender till December 31

Old N200, N500 and N1000 Notes

*The Supreme Court of Nigeria Friday, March 3 orders the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes should remain legal tender in circulation till December 31, 2023, in the country

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The Supreme Court Friday, March 3, 2023, ordered the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes should remain in circulation till December 31 this year in Nigeria.

ConsumerConnect reports the apex appellate court in the West African country also, nullified the Federal Government’s Naira redesign policy, as it declared it as an affront to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Recall the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) November 2022, had redesigned, produced, and released the new N200, N500 and N1000 notes into circulation along with existing banknotes till in the first instance, January 31, 2023.

In the Court’s ruling, Justice Emmanuel Agim, who read the lead judgement, upheld the preliminary objections by the defendants (the Attorney-General of the Federation, Bayelsa and Edo states) are dismissed as the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

Citing Section 23(2)1 of the Constitution, the court held that the dispute between the Federal Government and states must involve law or facts.

Buhari’s directive on old banknotes a sign of dictatorship – Supreme Court

The Court further pronounced that President Muhammadu Buhari in his broadcast admitted that implementation of the policy is flawed with a lot of challenges in the country’s economy.

The Naira redesign policy has led to some people engaging in trade by barter in this modern age in a bid to survive, said the Supreme Court.

It as well held that President Buhari’s disobedience of the February 8 order, is “a sign of dictatorship”.

Earlier, over 12 states of the Federation, including Zamfara, Kogi and Kaduna, had instituted the suit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introduction of the policy in Nigeria.

The suit initially instituted by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states has been slated as the first case on the cause list for a final verdict.

Justice John Inyang Okoro, who led a seven-man panel of Justices of the Court had on February 22 fixed today for the court to make its decision known on the suit.

The 16 states led by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara are praying the apex court to void and set aside the policy on the ground that it is inflicting hardships on innocent Nigerians.

The plaintiff states also accused the Buhari of usurping the function of the CBN in connection with the introduction and implementation of the policy, and they prayed the Court that the President’s directive be voided.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello, who were in court during the last sitting, were also present to witness the judgement this Friday.

Similarly, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle was at the Supreme Court session Friday.

Prior to Friday’s Court ruling

ConsumerConnect had reported the CBN extended the initial deadline for the swap of old N200, N500, and N1,000 from January 31 to February 10, following complaints by several Nigerian consumers but the Supreme Court, after a suit filed by the states, held that the Federal Government, the CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the February 10 deadline, pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue.

Buhari, nonetheless, in a national broadcast February 16 directed the CBN to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days till April 10, 2023.

He also said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes had since ceased to be legal tender in the country.

Ever since his pronouncement, there had been a flurry of reactions and stark criticisms against the President’s directive, including from governors of his party, the All Progressives Congress.

Among others, Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Umar Ganduje (Kano); Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and many stalwarts of the ruling APC have openly censured and faulted the President’s directive.

They contended that the directive has no grounds because the case is still pending before the Supreme Court.

Leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria like Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome have equally faulted the President’s move, saying he cannot overrule the apex court of the land.

Also, three State Governors, including Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi, also filed another suit against Mr. Abubakar Malami, and Mr. Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor, over contempt of court and their alleged failure to comply with the Supreme Court order on the old Naira notes.

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