New Naira Crisis: Again, Supreme Court adjourns case till March 3

THE Supreme Court has today again adjourned judgment on the new naira policy suit to March 3, 2023.

The court had on February 8 restrained the Federal Government from implementing the February 10 deadline for swapping the old naira notes with new ones.

The injunction was a sequel to a suit filed by Zamfara, Kogi and Kaduna state governments against the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

In his arguments on Wednesday, counsel for the Federal Government, Kanu Agabi, said the Supreme Court held that all reliefs were rooted in section 20 of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act.

Agabi argued that the apex court had no jurisdiction to hear the suit as the action cannot commence with an Originating Summons.

In addition, he argued that despite mentioning the CBN 32 times in their original summons, the plaintiffs thought it inappropriate to have the apex bank appear in court as a respondent.

He said Nigerians were already refusing the old notes in response to President Muhammadu Buhari’s order.

Agabi argued that President Buhari followed the court’s ruling when he asked Nigerians to deposit their old naira at CBN-designated locations, and that the President had the constitutional authority to reject any law.

He requested that the lawsuit be wholly dismissed.

Counsels for Edo and Bayelsa states also agreed that the suit be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

However, the Attorney General of Kano State, a co-plaintiff, claimed President Buhari ignored the National Economic Council’s members and only followed the CBN governor’s advice when implementing the monetisation strategy.

He stated that in contrast to what the law demanded, the President chose to act without consulting the state governments.

A nine-member panel led by Justice John Okoro adjourned the case and announced March 3 as the date after taking final arguments from lawyers to parties in the cases.

THE Supreme Court had on February 15 adjourned the suit challenging the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to February 22.

The court also held that it would hear the consolidated lawsuits filed by 10 states against the policy.

The ICIR had reported that the court had on February 8 stopped the plan by the Federal Government to ban the use of the old naira notes from February 10.

A seven-member panel of justices of the apex court led by Okoro ordered the suspension of the plan while ruling on an exparte motion filed by the Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara state governments.

Three All Progressives Congress (APC) governors had dragged the Federal Government before the Supreme Court to halt the full implementation of the naira redesign policy that the CBN introduced.

Governors Nasr El Rufai of Kaduna State, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, and Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, who filed the suit, expressed concern about the impact of the CBN policy on citizens of their states.

Other states like Ekiti, Ondo and Kano have applied to join the suit.

Malami, the only defendant in the lawsuit, had in a counter-motion asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the suit filed by the state governments.

Mahmood Magaji, the lawyer representing the AGF, filed the government’s objection to the suit.

In the Notice of Preliminary Objection dated February 8, the Federal Government claimed that the Supreme Court lacked the necessary jurisdiction to entertain the suit in the first place.

The AGF argued that the plaintiffs should have commenced the suit before a Federal High Court and not at the Supreme Court.

He also stated that the Federal Government would take steps to vacate the order when the court resumes using the instrumentality of the law.

The CBN had earlier fixed February 10 for the expiration of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes.

But President Buhari, while, in a nationwide broadcast on Thursday, February 16, approving the use of the old N200 note till April 10, declared the old N500 and N1000 notes illegal tender from February 10.

However, the governors of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states filed contempt proceedings against Malami and the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, over their alleged failure to comply with the Supreme Court order on old naira notes.

In the fresh documents filed before the court, the three states warned the AGF and the CBN governor of the consequences of their continued failure to comply with the apex court’s order made on February 8.

The forms filed by the lawyers for the three states will form part of the applications for consideration by the Supreme Court justices when the matter resumes.

A reporter with the ICIR
A Journalist with a niche for quality and a promoter of good governance

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