The Federal Government has submitted an application to the Supreme Court, seeking an extension of the deadline for the use of old naira notes beyond December 31, 2023. The apex court had previously extended the validity of the old currency notes until the end of this year.
Lateef Fagbemi, the Attorney-General of the Federation, filed the application, citing challenges in printing the required volume of new notes to facilitate the phasing out of the old currency. The economic crisis facing the country has been identified as a significant impediment to this process.
Fagbemi explained, “In between the time the order was made and now, there was a presidential election in the country which has led to a transition from the immediate-past government and the incumbent government which is just settling down.”
The AGF highlighted that the government has instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to develop a policy addressing the naira redesign in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order.
He stated, “Whilst working on the policy direction and due to the economic crisis being witnessed by the government of the federation and other factors beyond its control, the government of the federation to date has not been able to print the new 200, 500, and 1000 naira notes in equal proportion to the old 200, 500, and 1000 naira notes sought to be recalled, as consultation with critical stakeholders is still ongoing on how best to approach the redesign policy.”
Fagbemi expressed concerns that the looming expiration of the old notes’ validity has led to hoarding of the redesigned currency. He stated that the government believes the old versions of the 200, 500, and 1000 naira notes should continue as legal tender alongside the new versions to prevent destabilising the economy.
Failure to extend the deadline, he warned, could plunge the country into another national economic and financial crisis. Fagbemi urged the Supreme Court to grant the application to avert the potential adverse consequences.