Supreme Court reinstates old naira notes legal tender status till Dec 31
In a precedent on judicial intervention in monetary policy, Nigeria’s Supreme Court has set aside President Buhari’s Naira redesign policy, even as it rules that old denominations of N200, N500, and N1,000 notes remain in circulation until December 2023.
It is not likely that either President Muhammadu Buhari or the Central Bank of Nigeria, will comply with this ruling. The CBN, which the law empowers to implement this policy, was not joined in the suit for which the Supreme Court has delivered this judgment. Worse, citizens are least likely to obey the Supreme Court.
Delivering the ruling on Friday, the Supreme Court declared that the entire Naira redesign policy is an affront to the 1999 Constitution.
The suit initially instituted by Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara states has been slated as the first case on the cause list for the final verdict.
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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 states led by Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara are praying for the apex court to void and set aside the policy on the ground that it is inflicting hardships on innocent Nigerians
They accused President Muhammadu Buhari of usurping the function of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the introduction and implementation of the policy and asked that the directive issued by Buhari be voided.
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On its part, the Federal Government had challenged the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on the grounds that the CBN was not joined as a party and 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.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello were in court to witness the judgment on Friday. The two governors were also in court at the last hearing. Also, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle was in court on Friday.
Recall that 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 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 last Thursday, directed 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. He also said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes cease to be legal tender in Nigeria.