The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been directed by the Supreme Court to keep the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes in circulation till December 31, 2023.
It was gathered that the apex court on Friday nullified the Federal Government’s naira redesign policy, declaring it as an affront to the 1999 Constitution.
The Supreme Court delivered this ruling following the suit filed against the Federal Government by some state governments.
Recall that sixteen state governments instituted the suit to challenge the introduction of the policy.
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.
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 16 states led by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara are praying 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.
On its part, the Federal Government challenged the jurisdiction of the Apex 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 judgement on Friday.
The two governors were also in court at the last hearing. Also, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle was in court on Friday.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (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.
There has been a flurry of reactions and stark criticisms against the President’s directive including from governors of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Umar Ganduje (Kano); Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and many stalwarts of the ruling APC have openly censured and faulted the President’s directive, arguing that it has not grounds because the case is before the apex court.
Leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria like Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome have equally faulted the President’s move, saying he cannot overrule the apex court of the land.
Also, three State Governors- Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi have filed another suit against Malami, and the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele over contempt of court and their alleged failure to comply with the Supreme Court order on the old naira notes.