PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has cleared the air on the raging controversy trailing the Supreme Court judgment nullifying the naira redesign policy, saying the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubukar Malami, should not wait for him to implement the ruling.
Buhari said he had never directed any of his officials or institutions of government to disobey court orders since he became President on May 29, 2015.
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A statement signed by his special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, on Monday, March 13, said Nigeria could not practice democracy without the rule of law, noting that his administration’s commitment to this principle remained sacrosanct.
“The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President.
“President Buhari has also rejected the impression that he lacks compassion, saying that “no government in our recent history has introduced policies to help economically marginalised and vulnerable groups like the present administration,” part of the statement stated.
However, while vindicating himself, Buhari said it remained debatable if there was proof of willful denial by the CBN and the Attorney-General on the Supreme Court ruling.
The ICIR reports that since the Supreme Court declared the naira redesign a nullity, commercial banks have waited for either the President or the CBN to speak on the ruling.
The ICIR further reports that with the President’s reaction, commercial banks are expected to disburse the old N500 and N1,000 notes, thus ending weeks of suffering by Nigerians, who have battled to get a few naira notes in bank outlets and point-of-sale operator’s shops and have failed to get any in many instances.
The statement issued by the Presidency on Monday noted that it is “an established fact that the President is an absolute respecter of the judicial process and the authority of the courts. He has done nothing in the last eight or so years to act in any way to obstruct the administration of justice, cause a lack of confidence in the administration of justice, or otherwise interfere or corrupt the courts and there is no reason whatsoever that he should do so now when he is getting ready to leave office”.
The statement said the negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators were unfair and unjust, as, according to the Presidency, no court order at any level has been directed at him.
“As for the cashless system the CBN is determined to put in place, it is a known fact that many of the country’s citizens who bear the brunt of the sufferings, surprisingly support the policy as they believe that the action would cut corruption, fight terrorism, build an environment of honesty and reinforce the incorruptible leadership of the President.
“It is therefore wide off the mark to blame the President for the current controversy over the cash scarcity, despite the Supreme Court judgment.”
The ICIR reported how the Supreme Court nullified the currency redesign on March 3, after governors elected on the platform of the ruling party – the All Progressives Congress (APC), approached the court to declare the policy nullity.
Buhari authorised the policy, which the CBN said made the old notes cease to be legal tender from February 10.
In one of its many reports on the hardship the policy has brought to people in the country, The ICIR reported how Nigerians went nude, fought in banks and engaged in other habits that counted as offences when things were normal.
Though Buhari directed that the old N200 notes be returned into circulation in a nationwide broadcast on March 8, the Supreme Court’s judgment of March 3 nullified the policy. The court ordered that new and old notes be legal tender until December 31, 2023.
While most banks await Buhari and the CBN’s reaction to the judgment, some banks issue the old notes, but many citizens reject them because the government did not authorise their use.
Zamfara, Ekiti, and Kogi governors are among the states that threatened to arrest and prosecute anyone who rejects the old money.
On Sunday, March 12, The ICIR reported how the Arewa Consultative Forum warned that the President was courting anarchy with his silence on the court ruling.
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