Supreme Court cancels Dec. 31 deadline for old naira notes

THE Supreme Court has ruled that old and new naira notes would co-exist as legal tender until further notice.

The ruling cancelled the court’s earlier order, putting the notes’ validity as legal tender till December 31, 2023.

On Wednesday, November 29, a seven-member panel of the court’s judges, led by Inyang Okoro, ordered both old and new naira notes to continue as legal tender until the Federal Government sets up a process to carry out the transition after due consultation with stakeholders.

In October 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that it would be redesigning the N200, N500 and N1000 notes.

The then CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the redesign was part of efforts to control the currency in circulation.

Emefiele said N2.7 trillion out of N3.3 trillion of the country’s currency in circulation was outside commercial banks’ vaults and described the development as worrisome.

He noted that new notes would be in circulation by December 15, 2022, and a deadline of January 31, 2023, was fixed for the old notes to cease to be legal tender.

However, as the January 31 deadline inched closer, Nigerians found it more challenging to access the new notes, and it was extended a few more times.

    The Federal Government filed an application before the Supreme Court in March 2023, seeking an extension of the deadline to phase out the old naira notes to December 31.

    A fresh application to further extend the deadline beyond December 31 was filed by Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Lateef Fagbemi, who disclosed that printing the required volume of new notes had been difficult as a result of the economic crisis plaguing the country.

    “Since the said consequential order was made, the Federal Government, in compliance with this honourable court’s order, directed the CBN to engage and has been engaging the respondents in their individual capacities and in their capacities as members of the National Council of State and National Economic Council with respect to the Naira redesign policy.

    “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,” Fagbemi said.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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