The Central Bank of Nigeria has directed commercial banks to dispense and receive old naira notes as legal tender across the country.
The CBN gave the directive at a Bankers’ Committee meeting held on Sunday, according to a statement by the acting Director, CBN Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin, on Monday. This is coming hours after the Presidency Monday evening said the CBN has no reason not to obey the Supreme Court order. It stated that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), did not instruct the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to disobey “any court orders involving the government and other parties.”
But the apex bank in a statement titled, “Old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes Remain Legal Tender – CBN’, said the directive was in compliance with Buhari’s administration obedience to court orders.
The statement read, “In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law Principle that characterised the government of President Muhammad Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria, as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023.
“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023. Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly.”
The PUNCH reports that over one week after the court handed down the order, the AGF and the CBN have kept mum over the verdict. Their silence has emboldened Nigerians and businesses to reject the old notes as legal tender.
Meanwhile, state governments, which sued the Federal Government on the naira redesign policy, have given the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, till Tuesday to obey the order of the Supreme Court on the national currency. The state governments threatened to file contempt charges against the two top officials on Tuesday should they fail to obey the apex court which ordered that the old N1,000, N500 and N200 should be in circulation alongside the new notes till December 31, 2023.
The PUNCH reports that the apex court had ordered that the old naira notes be allowed to circulate side by side the new notes until December 31, 2023. A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice John Okoro gave the judgment. Other justices that sat on the case are Emmanuel Agim, Amina Augie, Mohammed Garba, Ibrahim Saulawa, Adamu Jauro and Tijanni Abubakar. In the judgment delivered by Justice Agim, the apex court held that President Buhari breached the constitution in the manner he issued directives for the redesigning of the naira.
According to PUNCH, on the disobedience of the Supreme Court’s earlier order on the new notes, Justice Agim said Buhari’s broadcast of February 16, 2023 that only the N200 note should remain legal tender made the country’s democracy look like a mere pretension.Justice Agim stated, “Let me consider the issue of the President’s disobedience of the 8-2-2023 interim order that the new and old versions of naira notes continue to circulate as legal tender until the determination of the pending application for interlocutory injunction. It is not in dispute that the 1st defendant refused to obey the said order.
“The President’s 16-2-2023 national broadcast reproduced here in pages 27-31 demonstrates this disobedience. In disobedience of the order, he directed that only the old N200 naira notes be re-circulated. Interestingly, there is nothing to show the implementation of even that directive. I agree with the 9th plaintiff that the 1st defendant is not entitled to be heard by this court when it has effused to respect the authority of this court and the authority of law from which the authority of the President and the government of Nigeria derives.
“The rule of law upon which our democratic governance is founded becomes illusory if the President of the country or any authority or person refuses to obey the orders of courts. The disobedience of orders of courts by the President in a constitutional democracy as ours is a sign of the failure of the constitution and that democratic governance has become a mere pretension and is now replaced by autocracy or dictatorship.”
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