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Why CBN should obey Supreme Court ruling on Naira redesign —Presidency

President Muhammadu Buhari

*The Federal Government clarifies President Muhammadu Buhari at no time instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN and Attorney-General of the Federation not to obey the Supreme Court order on the validity of old N200, N500 and N1000 till December 31, 2023

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The Presidency, Monday, March 13, 2023, said President Muhammadu Buhari at no time told the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to not obey any court orders involving the government and other parties, on the excuse of waiting for directives from Buhari.

Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Media and Publicity, in a statement, issued Monday, in Abuja, FCT, clarified the President never told AGF Abubakar Malami and  CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele to disobey any court orders.

Old Naira notes

ConsumerConnect had reported the Supreme Court of Nigeria March 3 this year, had ordered that old N200, N500 and N1000 notes should remain valid till December 31, 2023.

Earlier,  about 16 states of the Federation had instituted a lawsuit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introduction of the Naira redesign policy in the West African country.

Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara States, leading 13 other states had prayed the apex appellate court to void and set aside the policy on the ground that it is inflicting untold hardships on innocent Nigerians consumers.

The court subsequently ruled that the President’s disobedience of its February 8 order is a sign of dictatorship in leadership.

The Court also ruled that President Buhari breached the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) in the way he issued directives to the Bankers’ Bank for the re-designing of the N200, N500 and N1000 notes.

The waiting game on validity of old banknotes

Ever since the Supreme Court judgement delivered March 3, the Presidency, CBN and the AGF office had not made any pronouncement on the ruling.

As result of the palpable silence of these authorities on the issue, millions of bank customers and Nigerians in general were thrown into confusion.

Moe so, the ruling of the apex appellate court obviously contradicted President Buhari’s directive in his nationwide broadcast February 16.

The President had stated the old N500 and N1000 notes were banned, but the CBN should release more of only old N200 notes as legal tender till April 10.

According to him, the old N200 notes in circulation are to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days — by April 10, 2023.

Buhari declared the old N500 and N1,000 banknotes had ceased to be legal tender in Nigeria.

Hitherto, the CBN as the banking sector regulator, also extended the 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.

In the course of awaiting the Court judgement March 3, Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Umar Ganduje (Kano) all of the ruling All Progressives Congress, as well as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and several stalwarts of the ruling APC had openly censured and faulted the President’s directive.

They contended that the presidential pronouncement had no grounds because the case was still pending before the apex appellate court.

Likewise, leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria , such as Mr. Femi Falana and Chief Mike Ozekhome, equally faulted the President’s move, saying he cannot overrule the apex court of the land.

No obstruction to justice administration -Fed. Government

However, the Presidency opened up Monday, stressing that Buhari did not instruct the CBN and the AGF not to obey the order of the Supreme Court.

Garba also noted the Presidency said: “Following the ongoing intense debate about the compliance concerning the legality of the old currency notes, the Presidency therefore wishes to state clearly that President Buhari has not done anything knowingly and deliberately to interfere with or obstruct the administration of justice.

“The President is not a micromanager and will not, therefore, stop the Attorney General and the CBN Governor from performing the details of their duties in accordance with the law.”

The Presidency further stated: “In any case. it is debatable at this time if there is proof of willful denial by the two of them on the orders of the apex court.”

According to Garba, Buhari is an absolute respecter of the rule of law, and the “negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators are unfair and unjust.

The statement as well noted: “As for the cashless system the CBN is determined to put in place, it is a known fact that many of the country’s citizens who bear the brunt of the sufferings, surprisingly support the policy as they believe that the action would cut corruption, fight terrorism, build an environment of honesty and reinforce the incorruptible leadership of the President.

“It is therefore wide off the mark to blame the President for the current controversy over the cash scarcity, despite the Supreme Court judgement.

“The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President.”

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