February 7, 2023

Old notes: Don’t extend Feb 10 deadline, court tells FG, CBN


…As Kogi, Kaduna, Zamfara drag FG to Supreme Court

…Group goes to court, seeks expiry date extension

…14 political parties threaten withdrawal from 2023 polls

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Joseph Erunke, ABUJA

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory at Wuse Zone 2, yesterday issued an order restraining President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, from extending or interfering with the February 10 deadline for the use of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes.

This came on a day the governments of Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara states dragged the Federal Government before the Supreme Court.

But efforts to get the reaction of the Presidency last night proved futile, as the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, referred Vanguard to the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, who failed to pick calls and respond to text message sent to his mobile phone.

The court issued the order, following an ex-parte marked FCT/HC/CV/2234/2023, are  Action Alliance, AA, Action Peoples Party, APP, Allied Peoples Movement, APM, and the National Rescue Movement, NRM.

Specifically, the court, in the ruling delivered by Justice  Eleojo Enenche, held: “An order of interim injunction is hereby made restraining the defendants whether by themselves, staff agents, officers, interfacing banks or whosoever not to suspend, stop, extend, vary or interfere with the extant termination date of use of the old N200, N500, and N1,000 bank notes being 10th day of February, 2023, pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice.

“An order is hereby made directing the heads and chief executive officers, managing directors and/or alter egos of the 4th to 30th Defendants to forthwith show cause as to why they shall not be arrested and prosecuted for the economic and financial sabotage of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by their alleged act of hoarding, withholding, not paying or disbursing the new N200, N500 and N,1000 bank notes, being the legal tender of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to their respective customers, despite supplies of each of such currency notes by the 2nd and 3rd Defendants, thereby leading to the present currency note in circulation”.

The court held that the interim orders would be for initial period of seven days, even as it adjourned the matter till February 14 for hearing.

Aside from President Buhari, the CBN and its governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and 27 commercial banks were cited as Respondents/Defendants in the matter.

Zamfara, Kogi, Kaduna govts sue FG before Supreme

Meanwhile, disturbed by the adverse effect of naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on residents of their states, the governments of Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara states yesterday dragged the Federal Government before the Supreme Court.

The three states, through their respective Attorneys-General, are seeking an order of interim injunction to restrain FG and the CBN from stopping the use of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 denominations as valid legal tenders from February 10.

They are praying the apex court to halt the planned full implementation of the policy on use of the new naira notes.

The plaintiffs, in the suit accompanied with an ex-parte application, relied on Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act, to invoke  the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

The three states, through their team of lawyers, led by Mr. AbdulHakeem Mustapha, SAN, are praying the court to, in the interim, bar FG, either  by itself or acting through the CBN, the commercial banks or its agents, from carrying out its plan of ending the time-frame within which the now older versions of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denominations of the naira, may no longer be legal tender on February 10.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, was cited as the sole respondent in the matter.

Specifically, the states are seeking a declaration that the De-monetization Policy of the Federation being currently carried out by the CBN under the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is not in compliance with the extant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 and actual laws on the subject.

A declaration that the three-month notice given by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the CBN under the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the expiration of which will render the old banknotes inadmissible as legal tender, is in gross violation of the provisions of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 which specifies that reasonable notice must be given before such a policy.

A declaration that given the express provisions of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the CBN, has no powers to issue a timeline for the acceptance and redeeming of banknotes issued by the Bank, except as limited by Section 22(1) of the CBN Act 2007. The Central Bank shall at all times redeem its bank notes.

Besides, the states want the court to direct immediate suspension of the de-monetisation of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the CBN under the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria until it complies with the relevant provisions of the law.

The plaintiffs told the apex court that since the CBN announced the new naira policy, there had been an acute shortage in the supply of the new naira notes in their respective states.

They said residents in their states who complied with CBN’s directive and deposited their old naira notes, had increasingly found it difficult to access new naira notes to conduct their daily businesses.

They maintained that inadequacy of the new naira notes as well as the haphazard manner the monetary policy was being implemented, had wrought serious hardship on residents in their states, stressing that the 10-day extension of the deadline would not be sufficient to address challenges occasioned by the policy.

In an affidavit the plaintiffs filed in support of the suit, which was deposed to by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Kaduna State, Aisha Dikko, they told the apex court that although the naira redesign policy was introduced to encourage FG’s cashless policy, not all transactions could, however, be conveniently carried out through electronic means.

Many transactions still by cash

Dikko averred that several transactions still require cash in exchange for goods and services, hence the need for the Federal Government to have sufficient money available in circulation for the smooth running of the economy.

“That the majority of the indigenes of the Plaintiffs’ states who reside in the rural areas have been unable to exchange or deposit their old naira notes as there are no banks in the rural areas where the majority of the population of the states reside.

“Most people in rural areas of the Plaintiffs’ states do not have bank accounts and have so far been unable to deposit their life savings which are still in the old naira notes.

“There is restiveness amongst the people in the various states because of the hardship being suffered by the people, and the situation will sooner than later degenerate into the breakdown of law and order.

“The Plaintiff state governments cannot stand by as they are duty-bound to protect citizens in their states and prevent the breakdown of law and order.

“I know that if the Federal Government of Nigeria had given sufficient and reasonable time for the naira redesign policy, all the current hardship and loss being experienced by the Plaintiffs’ state governments as well as people in the various states would have been avoided.

“I know that the 10-day extension by the Federal Government is still insufficient to address the challenges bedevilling the policy. I also understand that the Federal Government cannot bar Nigerians from redeeming their old naira notes at any time, even though the senior notes are no longer legal tender.

“Unless this honourable court intervenes, the government and people of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states will continue to go through a lot of hardship and ultimately suffer great loss as a result of the insufficient and unreasonable time within which the Federal Government is embarking on the ongoing currency redesign policy,” the plaintiffs added.

Group goes to court, seeks expiry date extension

In another development, Social Rehabilitation Grace and Supportive Initiative, a socio-political group, has gone to court, seeking to compel the apex bank to extend the expiry date to a six-month timeline.

SRG’s convener, Dr. Marindoti Oludare and Omoyele Ishola in the suit before a Federal High Court, sitting in Akure, Ondo State, are asking the court to extend the February 10, 2023, for the expiration of the old naira notes by six months.

The applicants are seeking, among others, an interim injunction restraining “The respondents and her priciest from, agent, or servants from enforcing the deadline date of 10th February 2023, wherein the old N200, N500, and N1000 currency notes cease to be legal tender, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”

The applicants also add that the court should give “an order compelling the respondent to extend the submission of old N200, N500 and N2000 currency notes, by a minimum of six moths before same are finally called in and cease to be a legal tender, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

14 political parties threaten withdrawal from 2023 polls

Similarly, 14 of the 18 registered political parties participating in the general elections have threatened to withdraw their participation from the election if the Federal Fovernment and Central Bank of Nigeria,CBN,cancel or suspend for whatever reasons the cash withdrawal limit and Naira redesign policies.

Forum of Chairmen of Nigerian Political Parties and Forum of Candidates for the general election, in a statement, by spokesperson, Chief Kenneth Udeze,  National Chairman of Action Alliance,and flanked by  national chairmen, presidential candidates, governorship, senatorial and House of Representatives as well as House of Assembly candidates, tasked the Federal Government not to back down on the policies.

“We, hereby, announce our resolution that at least 14 of the 18 political parties in Nigeria will not be interested in the general election and indeed we shall withdraw all our participation from the electoral process if these currency policies are suspended or cancelled or if the deadline is further shifted.

“In fact, if these policies are implemented fully and without shifting the deadline of February 10, 2023, date, President Muhammadu Buhari would have taken a very huge step closer to fulfilling his promise to the world that the general election would be credible, free and fair.

“We have intercepted very credible intelligence of a well-financed plot to instigate violent disturbances, incite and provoke civil unrest aimed at undermining the president and causing a shift in the election date or causing his administration to come to an abrupt end. We were approached to lend our support, generous promises were made but we believe that Nigeria comes first before any other mundane consideration.

“We call on the State Security Service to put thoseresponsible on the watch list as they are seriously mobilizing miscreants to begin as quickly a possible protests which will now commence from Naira scarcity protests and graduate quickly to Buhari -Must- Go protests which is the ultimate aim, where the President refuses to bulge and shift the policy.

“These evil plans are targeted at coinciding the disturbances with the seven-day grace Mr. President asked Nigerians to grant him to solve the problem of the Naira crunch,”the group said.