The Supreme Court of Nigeria today 15th February 2023 hears case on CBN’s naira swap policy. At the last hearing, the Court had temporarily banned the implementation of the February 10, 2023 deadline of the CBN making the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes legal tender. The Supreme Court of Nigeria is filled to capacity with a retinue of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, other lawyers and the governors of Kaduna and Kogi states for the hearing of the substantive suit on the naira swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
At the last hearing, the Court had temporarily banned the implementation of the February 10, 2023 deadline of the CBN from making the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes legal tender.
The Zamfara, Kogi and Kaduna states had instituted the suit against the Federal Government and the CBN. Other states, namely Niger, Kano, Ondo, Ekiti, have also applied to be joined in the suit against the CBN and the Federal Government.
Court proceedings began with Justice John Okoro leading a seven-man panel. He said the court should not lose sight of the case and its intention as it affects the suffering of Nigerians. Lagos State, through its Attorney General, Moyosore Onigbanjo, also applied, seeking to be joined in the suit.
Bayelsa State, led by Damian Dodo, has also applied to be joined in the suit as a respondent. Similarly, Edo State applied to be joined as a respondent in the suit.
Last week, the Supreme Court gave an interim order barring the federal government from implementing the 10th February 2023 deadline set for the use of the old notes. The federal government is yet to take a decision on an extension of the deadline for the use of old naira notes, adding to the controversy across the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, on Tuesday night in a message sent to journalists, said; “We wish to state that it is not true that the Federal Government or the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN have taken a preemptive action on the legality of currency as a legal tender in view of the pendency of the case before the Supreme Court.
“The position of the government and the CBN will be made known upon the determination of the suit coming up tomorrow,” he said. According to Premium Times, the Supreme Court will on Wednesday continue hearing in a suit filed by three state governments against the federal government of Nigeria.
The state governments want the Supreme Court to direct the federal government to allow the continued use of both the old and the new naira notes. Last week, the Supreme Court gave an interim order barring the federal government from implementing the 10th February 2023 deadline set for the use of the old notes.
However, despite the Supreme Court order, most banks and businesses have stopped accepting the old naira notes as a legal tender, despite the scarcity of the new notes.
On Tuesday, the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, indicated that the 10th February 2023 deadline had not been shifted, contrary to the Supreme Court’s directive.
The CBN is not a party to the suit filed by the state governments. However, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has asked the Supreme Court to vacate its order and dismiss the suit by the state governments.
As the matter continues at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Nigerians continue to suffer from the scarcity of the new naira notes. Some Nigerians cannot fed for themselves anymore because their money in the bank can no longer be accessed.
Governors Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and Yahaya Bello of Kogi State arrived at the Supreme Court for the Naira redesign suit at about 8:40 a.m. on Wednesday 15th February 2023. The governor of Kaduna State Nasir El-Rufai and his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello, arrived at the Supreme Court to attend the Wednesday’s proceedings in their suit against the federal government’s naira redesign policy.
Nasir El-Rufai and Yahaya Bello arrived at the Supreme Court at about 8:40am. The two governors met at the lobby of the courtroom where they shook hands warmly before taking their seats in the courtroom. At 9:10 a.m., a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court led by John Okoro filed into the court.
Before proceedings in the case commenced, the head of the Supreme Court panel, Mr Okoro, appealed to lawyers in the suit not to behave like politicians. Mr Okoro urged the lawyers not to lose sight of the suffering of Nigerians, calling for an amicable resolution of the dispute. Three State governments- Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara, had sued the federal government at the Supreme Court, seeking to halt the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) naira redesign policy.
The CBN had announced the phasing out of the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira banknotes ast year October 2023. The apex bank insisted on the 10th February 2023 deadline for deposit of the old notes, despite an order by the Supreme Court on 8 February 2023, suspending the implementation of the monetary policy. Though the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, pledged the government’s compliance with the order.
However, the Federal Government has stated that it will take decision on the legality of the old currency notes of N200, N500 and N1000 after the determination of the suit filed by some state governments at the nation’s apex court.
Three states, Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara had dragged the federal government to the Supreme Court asking that the February 10 deadline by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, be extended. The court had fixed February 15 to detetmine the suit.
However, it was reported that the CBN has insisted that the February 10 deadline is unchangeable. Some Nigerians have accused the Federal Government and the CBN of contempt of court and insensitive to the hardship many Nigerians are passing through as a result of the scarcity of cash. But the Federal Government last night said that their decision will only be taken after the determination of the suit in the Supreme Court.
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