A socio-political organisation, Social Rehabilitation Gruppe (SRG), has frowned on what it describes as the reluctance of the federal government to obey the order of the Supreme Court, declaring old Naira notes of N200, N500 and N1000 as legal tenders.
A seven-member panel of the apex court led by Hon. Justice John Okoro, unanimously directed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must continue to receive the old notes from Nigerians.
The court also held that the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari for the redesign of the new notes and withdrawal of the old notes without due consultation is invalid.
Reacting however, the SRG, in a statement by its Convener/ National Coordinator, Dr. Marindoti Oludare, said it marvelled to find that 48 hours after the Supreme Court’s judgement, the federal government was yet to obey the verdict.
It thus warned, saying, “President Muhammadu Buhari, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) and the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele must be held in contempt as deterrence for future presidents.
“This is because, if the court fails to act, then it is setting a precedence.”
The group added that there was no justification retaining the judicially quashed CBN monetary policy since the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had indicated that he would review it.
“If they care about Nigeria, then they must comply; more so as the President-elect has indicated that he does not intend to continue with the policy when he gets inaugurated on May 29.
“That, the policy was reckless and an ill-conceived one, as it never considered what policy the in-coming administration would do.
“It was designed to serve as an albatross for the new administration by the sunsetting one, and since the President-elect is clear, the executive arm should stop further plunging Nigeria into a constitutional crisis,” the SRG warned..
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court sitting in Akure, Ondo State, will hear a suit filed against the CBN by Oludare, the SRG, and two others, over the apex bank’s invalidation of the N200, N500 and N1000 notes, on March 30, this year.
The plaintiffs had asked the court to compel the CBN to extend the deadline for the expiration of the new naira notes by six months.
They stated that the time given by the CBN could not be considered a reasonable time, “as contained in Section 20 (3) of the CBN Act 2007, considering the population of the country, which, according to Worldometre elaboration of the United Nations‘ data, stands at about 219, 375,886; about 2.64 per cent of the world population.”
They averred that according to the CBN Act of 2007, the CBN Governor has no right to erase value acquired by the individual, despite his power to set deadline for legal tender, “contrary to what Emefiele lackadaisically said on November 23, 2022 when he said ‘the money becomes useless in your hands, that’s all!’.”
The plaintiffs similarly remarked that setting a hurried expiry date for the old Naira notes at a time Nigeria was preparing for a major election smacked of mischief and could derail a smooth transition from one government to another.
But the trial judge, Justice T. B Adegoke, said it was improper for her court to commence trial as the suit was similar to the one pending before the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the land, and thus adjourned to March 30, for hearing.