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Supreme Court : Old N1000, N500 and N200 notes to remain legal tender till December



The Supreme Court has ruled that the old Naira notes of 1000, 500 and 200 will remain a legal tender December 2023.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the court held that the order made by the Central Bank of Nigeria on the Naira redesign policy stopping the circulation of the old notes should have been made after due consideration by the Federal Executive Council and other relevant bodies.

The court also held that the defendant dwelled on the notice given by a press statement issued by the CBN governor on October 26, 2022 which cannot be held as a valid notice given prior to the change of the Naira Notes. The Court also said the directive of the president is invalid as prior notice should have been started when the new notes were made available as the three months notice cannot start when the currency was not in circulation.

The court also held that changing the Naira notes should have been through proper dialogue by relevant bodies with prior notice to the citizens and that the old notes allowed to co-exist with the new ones for a period of one year.

The court also held that it has the jurisdiction to entertain the matter on grounds that it’s a matter between the federation and the state according to section 232(1)of the 1999 Constitution as amended.The court held tha an act by the president is an act on behalf of the federation as the president is not a sovereign being, having been elected through the constitutional means.

The court therefore held that the Order given by President Buhari through the CBN was without reasonable notice to the general public and the consultation of the Federal Executive Council, the National Economic Council and other relevant bodies involved.

Governors react:

Meanwhile the three governors – Nasir El-Rufai, Yahaya Bello and Bello Matawalle- who initiated the suit have reacted to the Supreme Court ruling.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the Court session in Abuja on Friday, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, described the ruling as victory for Nigeria. He expressed satisfaction that the panel of justices granted all their seven prayers.

He said as members of the same political party who are also close to the president, they approached the court after they failed in their attempt to settle the matter behind the scene because the policy brought hardship to Nigerians. He said contrary to suggestions in some quarters, they did not approach the court because they felt the policy was injurious to the presidential ambition of their candidate Bola Tinubu(who was eventually declared winner of the election) but because their people were suffering, businesses were crumbling and lives were being destroyed.

El Rufai said their action is not a rebellion but a reform saying with the ruling no president or CBN governor will take a decision without proper consultation in the future. He added that if there is any need to seek an extension of the time for the old notes to circulate after December 2023, they will return to the court to seek such extension. He said  even if he’s no more in power his two other colleagues will be there to carry it on.

Also speaking, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State said the development will lay a solid foundation for the President-elect, Bola Tinubu on how to pursue his economic policies when he’s inaugurated as president later in May.

He said the judgement has proven that the law is no respecter of anybody including the president.

The Zamfara State Governor,  Bello Matawalle, said they were aware that some Nigerians accused them of having huge sums of the old notes in their homes as the reason they went to court to challenge the policy. He challenged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to initiate an operation to recover such money if at all it exists.

El- Rufai accuses Emefiele of  deceiving President Buhari:

Governor El Rufai while answering questions from reporters at the Supreme Court premises said the CBN Governor who was originally appointed by the Peoples Democratic Party government in 2014 designed the Naira redesign policy to help the PDP return to power in the 2023 general elections. He said Emefiele deceived President Muhammadu Buhari to think that the policy will be a success while he had a different agenda of helping the PDP win the election.

He said the disagreement that trailed the policy did not indicate confusion in the APC as the party has emerged victorious in the presidential election. He said what is important now is that ordinary Nigerians can now go to court and access their money. He said though it is left to the prerogative of the Federal government to obey the Supreme Court ruling but expressed confidence that all the orders will be complied with because the president is a believer in the rule of law.