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Supreme Court stops CBN from implementing February 10 deadline on naira swap

The Supreme Court, on Wednesday restrained the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN), from implementing the February 10, expiration deadline of the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes.

The governments of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara had on Monday, sued the Federal government to the Supreme Court, seeking restraining order to stop the full implementation of the policy.

This was contained in an ex-parte motion filed by their lawyer, AbdulHakeem Mustapha, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria ( SAN).

The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kaduna State, Aisha Dikko, in an affidavit filed in support of the suit, averred that although the Naira redesign policy was introduced to encourage the cashless policy of the Federal government, it is not all transactions that can be conveniently carried out through electronic means.

Several transactions, according to her, still require cash in exchange for goods and services, hence the need for the Federal Government to have sufficient money available in circulation for the smooth running of the economy.
She maintained that “ the majority of the indigenes of the Plaintiffs’ states who reside in the rural areas have been unable to exchange or deposit their old naira notes as there are no banks in the rural areas where the majority of the population of the states reside.

Dikko, in the said Affidavit, noted that most people in rural areas of the Plaintiffs’ states do not have bank accounts and have so far been unable to deposit their life savings which are still in the old naira notes.

“There is restiveness amongst the people in the various states because of the hardship being suffered by the people, and the situation will sooner than later degenerate into the breakdown of law and order.

“The Plaintiff State Governments cannot stand by as they are duty-bound to protect citizens in their states and prevent the breakdown of law and order.
“I know that if the Federal Government of Nigeria had given sufficient and reasonable time for the naira redesign policy, all the current hardship and loss being experienced by the Plaintiffs’ State Governments as well as people in the various states would have been avoided.
“I know that the 10-day extension by the Federal Government is still insufficient to address the challenges bedevilling the policy. I also understand that the Federal Government cannot bar Nigerians from redeeming their old naira notes at any time, even though the senior notes are no longer legal tender.

She averred that unless “ this Honourable Court intervenes, the Government and people of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara State will continue to go through a lot of hardship and would ultimately suffer great loss as a result of the insufficient and unreasonable time within which the Federal Government is embarking on the ongoing currency redesign policy.”

Read also: New naira: CIBN assures banking public of normalcy

But a seven-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice John Okoro, in a unanimous ruling on Wednesday, granted an interim injunction restraining the FG, CBN, commercial banks etc from implementing the February 10, deadline for the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes to stop being a legal tender.

The court further held that the FG, CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the deadline pending the determination of a notice on notice on in respect of the issue on February 15.

By this ruling, the old naira notes continue to be legal tenders in Nigeria, until the substantive case is decided.