The Supreme Court has instructed that old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes remain in circulation till December 31, 2023. It also nullified the Federal Government’s naira redesign policy, declaring it as an affront to the 1999 Constitution.
This development comes as the apex court delivered judgement in the suit brought against the Federal Government on the naira redesign policy.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Emmanuel Agim explained that the preliminary objections by the defendants (the Attorney General of the Federation, Bayelsa and Edo states) are dismissed as the court has the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
The court cited Section 23(2)1 of the constitution and held that the dispute between the Federal Government and states must involve law or facts.
How did the suit emerge?
Sixteen states of the Federation had earlier instituted the suit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introduction of the policy. Led by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara, the 16 states are praying the apex court to void the policy since it is inflicting hardships on innocent Nigerians.
Alleging that President Muhammadu Buhari usurped the function of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the introduction and implementation of the policy, the governors asked that the directive issued by Buhari be nullified.
Reacting to the suit, the Federal government challenged the jurisdiction of the Apex Court to hear the suit. It argued that the dispute on the policy ought to be directed at the CBN so that the suit can be referred to the Federal High Court.
What you should know
The deadline for the swap of old N200, N500, and N1,000 was extended by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 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, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a national broadcast instructed 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. While the old N500 and N1,000 banknotes ceased to be legal tender in Nigeria.
The impasse between the apex court, the federal government and state governments have generated several reactions from the Nigerian population. Also, leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria like Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome have faulted the President’s move, stressing that he cannot overrule the apex court of the land. The question in minds of Nigerians now is, If Buhari did not obey the previous Supreme court ruling, who says he will obey the new order?
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