The Supreme Court on Friday ordered that old N200, N500, N1,000 notes remain in circulation till December 31, 2023.
The apex court also nullified the Federal Government’s naira redesign olicy, declaring it as an affront to the 1999 Constitution.
16 states of the federation had dragged the federal government to court seeking an order vioding the cashless policy of the federal government on grounds amongst others that due consultations were not made before the implementation of the policy.
However, the federal government in its response filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to entertain the suit.
According to them the suit borders around the policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and as such ought to be filed at the Federal High Court.
But the apex court in its ruling delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim disagreed with the federal government, pointing out that evidence abound including President Muhammadu Buhari national broadcast to show that the policy is that of the federal government and as such the dispute is between the states and the federal government and therefore falls within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
All the preliminary objections lacked merit and are therefore dismissed.
The CBN had extended the deadline for the swap of old N200, N500, and N1,000 from January 31 to February 10 following complaints by many Nigerians 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.
However, the President, in a national broadcast, directed the apex bank to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days — by April 10, 2023. He also said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes cease to be legal tender in Nigeria.
There has been a flurry of reactions and stark criticisms against the President’s directive including from governors of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
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, arguing that it has not grounds because the case is before the apex 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- Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi have filed another suit against Malami, and the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele over contempt of court and their alleged failure to comply with the Supreme Court order on the old naira notes.