Supreme Court Cancels Naira Redesign Policy, Okay Use of Old Notes
Market pressures expect to ease as the Supreme Court on Friday ordered that old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes remain in circulation till December 31, 2023. The apex court also nullified the Federal Government’s naira redesign policy, declaring it as an affront to the 1999 Constitution.
Naira swaps that followed the redesign of the local currency brought unexpected pressures on people and businesses in the country in the past months, MarketForces Africa reported.
The scarcity of new naira notes in the economy triggered unrest that forced many deposit money banks to close operations across states, a development some think impacted 2023 presidential election conducted last week.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, who read the lead judgment, held that the preliminary objections by the defendants which include the Attorney General of the Federation, Bayelsa and Edo state government are dismissed as the court has the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
“President acted Ulta vires by his glaring failure to consult with the National Council of States, Federal Executive Council FEC and the National Economic Council NEC before directing the Central Bank of Nigeria to unlawfully introduce new Naira notes”.
The naira programme by the Central Bank of Nigeria was implemented to reduce the amount of the local currency that is outside the banking system amidst a rising trend of terrorism financing, and foreign currency speculation among others.
Some economists still believe that the supreme court’s decision to interfere with the monetary policy will have negative effects on market perception in the short to long run noting that the CBN Act spells out its independence from others.
However, 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. The apex court further held that President Muhammadu Buhari in his broadcast admitted that the policy is flawed with a lot of challenges.
Justice Agim held that the unconstitutional use of powers by Buhari on Naira Re-designing has breached the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens in various ways.
The court said the policy has led to some people engaging in trade by barter in this modern age in a bid to survive. The court added that the President’s disobedience of the February 8 order, is a sign of dictatorship.
Recall that sixteen states of the Federation instituted the suit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introduction of the policy. 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
They accused the President of usurping the function of the CBN in the introduction and implementation of the policy and asked that the directive issued by Buhari be voided.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello were in court to witness the judgement on Friday. The two governors were also in court at the last hearing. Also, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle was in court on Friday.
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 due to inadequate supply of new notes to bank customers.
Later, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the CBN 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 have been reactions and stark criticisms against the CBN policy redesign which critics think has a political undertone while some of the loyalists to Bola Tinubu, now president-elect, cried foul play against President Buhari – who doubles as party leader.
Specifically, key loyalty to the president-elect includes Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Umar Ganduje (Kano); have been vocal about their positions on failings and legality of the CBN new naira policy.
Others like Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and many stalwarts of the ruling APC also faulted the President’s directive, arguing that it has no grounds because the case is before the apex court.
Meanwhile, top 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 in the matter.
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. # Supreme Court Cancels Naira Redesign Policy, Okay Use of Old Notes