Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily stopped moves by the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to ban the use of the old naira notes from February 10, 2023.
Leading a seven-member panel, Justice John Okoro stopped the Federal Government’s plan in a ruling on an exparte application brought by three northern states of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara.
The February 10 deadline for the currency swap announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria pitched Governors Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) against 14 political parties which threatened to boycott the February 25 election if the should extend the time limit.
The apex court gave its ruling as a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory restrained President Muhammadu Buhari, CBN, its Governor Godwin Emefiele and 27 commercial banks from suspending, stopping, extending or interfering with the currency swap terminal date.
Justice E. Enenche gave the order following an application by four political parties.
The three governors, who dragged the CBN and the Federal Government to the Supreme Court, were seeking a halt to the full implementation of the naira redesign policy initiated by the apex bank.
Moving the application on Wednesday, counsel to the applicants, Mr A. I. Mustapha, SAN, urged the court to grant the application in the interest of justice and Nigerians.
The counsel argued that the policy had led to an “excruciating situation that is almost leading to anarchy in the land”.
Justice Okoro granted the prayer after careful consideration of the motion exparte in the application.
Justice Okoro, in his ruling on the motion, held that “An order of Interim Injunction restraining the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on February 10, 2023, the time frame with which the now older version of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denomination of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction”.
But the judge adjourned to February 15, 2023, for a hearing of the main suit.