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Older notes: Court instructs FG, CBN not to extend the deadline of February 10

Yesterday, a High Court in Wuse Zone 2 of the Federal Capital Territory issued an order preventing President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria, or CBN, from extending or interfering with the February 10 deadline for using the old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes.

This took place on the same day that the governments of the states of Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara brought the Federal Government before the Supreme Court.

Vanguard was referred to the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, who failed to pick up calls or respond to text messages sent to his mobile phone. As a result, efforts to obtain a response from the Presidency last night were unsuccessful.

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

In particular, the court held in the ruling by Justice Eleojo Enenche: In the meantime, until the motion on notice is heard and a decision is made, an interim injunction is issued prohibiting the defendants—whether they are the defendants themselves, staff agents, officers, banks that interface with them, or anyone else—from violating the current termination date for the use of the N200, N500, and N1,000 bank notes, which is February 10, 2023.

“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

Even though the matter was postponed until February 14 for a hearing, the court decided that the interim orders would be in effect for a period of seven days.

In addition to President Buhari, the matter cited the CBN and its governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, as well as 27 commercial banks as Respondents/Defendants.

Zamfara, Kogi, and Kaduna governments sue the Federal Government in front of the Supreme Court Yesterday, the governments of Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara states sued the Federal Government in front of the Supreme Court. They were alarmed by the negative impact that the CBN’s naira redesign policy had on residents of their states.

Through their respective Attorneys General, the three states are requesting an interim injunction to prevent the FG and the CBN from discontinuing the use of the old denominations of N200, N500, and N1,000 as valid legal tender on February 10.

They are pleading with the Supreme Court to halt the planned full implementation of the policy regarding the use of the brand-new Nigerian naira notes.

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In their ex-parte application and lawsuit, the plaintiffs invoked the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction by citing Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act.

Through their team of lawyers, led by Mr. AbdulHakeem Mustapha, SAN, the three states are asking the court to temporarily stop FG from carrying out its plan to end the time frame within which the older versions of the 200, 500, and 1,000 naira denominations may no longer be legal tender on February 10. This could be done by FG or the CBN, the commercial banks, or its agents.

Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Federation’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, was listed as the only respondent in the case.

In particular, the states are asking for a declaration that the current De-Monetization Policy of the Federation, which is being carried out by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the direction of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, does not comply with the current provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007, and relevant laws.

A declaration that the provisions of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007—which stipulates that reasonable notice must be given prior to such a policy—are grossly violated by 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, which will render the old banknotes inadmissible as legal tender at its expiration.

a declaration that the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has no authority to issue a timeline for the acceptance and redemption of banknotes issued by the Bank, except as limited by Section 22(1) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007. Redeeming banknotes is always the responsibility of the Central Bank.

In addition, the states want the court to order the CBN to immediately suspend the demonization of the Nigerian Federal Government until it complies with the relevant laws, as directed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The plaintiffs informed the supreme court that there had been a severe shortage of the new naira notes in their respective states since the CBN announced the new policy.

They claimed that residents of their states who had followed the CBN’s instructions and deposited their previous naira notes were increasingly having trouble accessing new naira notes in order to carry out their daily activities.

They argued that residents of their states had been severely harmed by the inadequacy of the new naira notes and the haphazard manner in which the monetary policy was being implemented, and they emphasized that the 10-day extension of the deadline would not be sufficient to address the problems caused by the policy.

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The plaintiffs informed the supreme court in an affidavit they submitted in support of the lawsuit, which was deposed to by Aisha Dikko, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Kaduna State, that although the naira redesign policy was implemented to encourage FG’s cashless policy, not all transactions could, nonetheless, be conveniently carried out through electronic means.

Dikko stated that a number of transactions still require cash in exchange for goods and services. As a result, the Federal Government must have enough money in circulation to ensure the economy runs smoothly.

That the majority of natives of the Plaintiffs’ states who live in rural areas have been unable to exchange or deposit their previous Nigerian naira notes due to the absence of banks in these areas, which are home to the majority of the states’ population.

The majority of people living in the plaintiff states’ rural areas do not have bank accounts, so they have not been able to deposit their life savings, which are still in the old naira notes.

“Due to the hardship that the people are going through, there is agitation among the people in the various states, and the situation will sooner or later degenerate into the breakdown of law and order.

“The Plaintiff state governments cannot stand by because they are obligated to safeguard citizens and prevent the breakdown of law and order in their states.

“I am aware that all of the current hardship and loss that the Plaintiffs’ state governments as well as the people in the various states are experiencing would have been avoided if the Federal Government of Nigeria had provided sufficient and reasonable time for the naira redesign policy.

“I am aware that the Federal Government’s 10-day extension is still insufficient to address the policy’s difficulties. Even though the older naira notes are no longer accepted as payment, I am aware that the Federal Government cannot prevent Nigerians from redeeming them at any time.

The plaintiffs added, “The government and people of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara states will continue to go through a great deal 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 unless this honorable court intervenes.”

Another development involves the social-political group Social Rehabilitation Grace and Supportive Initiative, which has gone to court to demand that the apex bank extend the expiration date to six months.

SRG’s convener, Dr. Marindoti Oludare, and Omoyele Ishola are suing a Federal High Court in Akure, Ondo State, asking for a six-month extension of the old naira notes’ expiration date on February 10, 2023.

“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 are seeking, among other things, an interim injunction.

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In addition, the applicants argue that the court ought to issue “an order compelling the respondent to extend the submission of old N200, N500, and N2000 currency notes by a minimum of six months 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 to withdraw from the elections in 2023 Similarly, 14 of the 18 registered political parties participating in the general elections have threatened to withdraw their participation if the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, cancel or suspend the cash withdrawal limit and Naira redesign policies for any reason.

In a statement, the spokesperson for the Forum of Chairmen of Nigerian Political Parties and the Forum of Candidates for the General Election, Chief Kenneth Udeze, National Chairman of Action Alliance, flanked by national chairmen, presidential, governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives, and House of Assembly candidates, urged the Federal Government not to change its 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. In fact, we will withdraw all of our participation from the electoral process if these currency policies are suspended, cancelled, or the deadline is further shifted.

“In point of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari would have taken a very significant step closer to fulfilling his promise to the world that the general election would be credible, free, and fair if these policies were fully implemented and the deadline of February 10, 2023 was not pushed back.

“We have intercepted very credible intelligence of a well-funded plot to incite and provoke civil unrest, violent disturbances, and a change in the date of the election or the abrupt end of the president’s administration with the goal of undermining the president. We were asked to help, and generous promises were made. However, we think Nigeria should come first, before anything else.

“We ask the State Security Service to put those who are responsible on the watch list because they are seriously mobilizing criminals to start as many protests as possible as soon as possible. These protests will start with the Naira scarcity protests and quickly progress to the Buhari-Must-Go protests, which is the ultimate goal when the President refuses to bulge and change the policy.

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

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