Naira Redesign: 4 Things Abubakar Malami Said About Supreme Court’s Ruling
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News - February 10, 2023

Naira Redesign: 4 Things Abubakar Malami Said About Supreme Court’s Ruling

The Naira redesign by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has plunged Nigeria into a state of chaos. It first started with mixed reactions from Nigerians – some applauded the initiative as it was expected to resolve the prevailing national security issues while others berated and politicised it. 

The public discourse took a different approach when the new notes – 200, 500, and 1,000 Naira notes – were released and about 70% of the old notes were mopped from the system. The citizens were directed to swap the old naira for the new but the naira notes (old and new) in circulation were limited and this degenerated into a full-blown crisis.

How it happened

The CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele had announced that the existing notes would cease to be regarded as legal tender by January 31, 2023. But as the deadline drew nearer, Nigerians were plagued with the challenge of naira scarcity, as commercial banks failed to load their ATMs with the new naira notes. 

The naira scarcity complicated the already volatile economy and led to a nationwide outcry. Citizens, governors, and political contenders in the 2023 general elections took turns to call on the CBN and the federal government to extend the deadline.

Consequently, the CBN Governor after a meeting with the President, Muhammadu Buhari allayed the nationwide tension by announcing an extension of the deadline. Emefiele, who extended the deadline for the swap of old naira notes at commercial banks by 10 days, said Nigerians will still be able to deposit their old notes directly with the CBN until February 10, 2023, described as a “grace period”.

The 10 days extension, however, did not resolve the chaos raging in different quarters as 13 political parties out of the 18 political parties in Nigeria threatened to withdraw from participating in the February 25 and March 11, 2023, general elections, if the CBN failed to extend the February 10 deadline for the naira swap.

Meanwhile, the Governors of Kaduna, Zamfara, and Kogi State dragged the Federal Government to the Supreme Court over the scarcity of the old and new naira notes. In response to their lawsuit, the Supreme Court in a ruling on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, ordered the CBN to temporarily suspend the February 10 deadline for the naira swap.

The Attorney General Of the Federation, Abubakar Malami responded to the Supreme Court ruling. 

What the Attorney-General said:

1. He said: “So the issue of obedience to the ruling of the Supreme Court is out of it. We are wholeheartedly in agreement that naturally, we are bound by it and will comply accordingly.”

He, however, expressed hope that the ruling will be overturned.

2. Malami said the Federal Government would challenge the ruling within the provisions of the law.

“Rule of law provides that when you are not happy with a ruling you can file an application for setting it aside and in compliance with the rights and privileges vested in us as a government, we are equally looking at challenging the order and seeking for it to be set aside.” He further hinted that some machinery has been set in place to challenge the ruling,” he said.

3. He said the applicants failed to name the CBN in the case. Malami explained that the central bank which is an indispensable party in monetary policy was not named in the suit. 

“What we have at hand is a situation where the central bank was not joined as a party and if the central bank as an institution was not joined as a party, the position of the law is clear that the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court cannot be properly invoked.”

4. The AGF said the Federal Government would question the jurisdiction of the apex court to entertain the suit. He contended that the omission of CBN from the suit robbed the apex court of necessary jurisdiction. He disclosed that the federal government would challenge the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to entertain the suit.

NEXT:Supreme Court Adjourns Suit Seeking To Halt Ban on Old Naira Notes

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