The Supreme Court has restrained the Central Bank of Nigeria from enforcing the February 10 deadline to stop the old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes from being used as legal tender in the country.
Three governors—Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, Yahaya Bello of Kogi, and Bello Matawalle of Zamfara—had filed an ex parte motion before the Supreme Court petition for a temporary restraining order to stop President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime and the Central Bank of Nigeria from continuing the implementation of the naira redesign policy.
The motion, accompanied by a request for an expedited hearing, seeks a declaration that the demonetisation policy of the regime is in violation of the extant provisions of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007, the Nigerian Constitution and relevant laws.
The governors also requested the court to declare that the three-month notice issued by the CBN with authorisation of Mr Buhari, wherein the older versions of the denominations will lose their legal tender status is in flagrant violation of Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007, which states that reasonable notice must be given.
The attorneys general of the three northern states are the motion’s plaintiffs, and Abubakar Malami, the justice minister, is the only respondent.
The plaintiffs claimed that the Buhari regime failed to fulfill its responsibility to facilitate a seamless transition from the old banknotes to the new currencies.
The plaintiffs contended that the latest extension of the deadline for submitting old notes was insufficient to remedy the numerous issues plaguing the policy, citing a severe shortage of new notes in Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara.
The governors said the policy’s short implementation timeline, coupled with its attendant chaos and the misery it is causing Nigerians was unacceptable.
They are also requesting a declaration from the court that, in light of the plain stipulations of Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007, the federal government, acting through the CBN, lacks the authority to set a deadline for accepting and redeeming banknotes issued by the Bank, with the exception of the circumstances described in Section 22(1) of the CBN Act 2007.
The suit followed the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele’s comment over the weekend that the apex bank would not extend the deadline but would instead work with relevant stakeholders to facilitate the implementation of the policy.