Barely two days to the deadline for the Naira swap by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily stopped the withdrawal of old Naira Notes from circulation on February 10.
The apex court delivered the ruling in a suit filed by Governors—Nasir El-Rufai Yahaya Bello and Bello Matawalle of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara respectively.
The three governors had in the ex parte motion before the apex court seeking temporary order to stop President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime and the Central Bank of Nigeria from continuing the implementation of the naira redesign policy.
The Governors had in the motion asked the court to declare that the demonetization policy of the regime is in violation of the extant provisions of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007, the Nigerian Constitution, and relevant laws.
The governors also asked the court to declare that the three-month notice issued by the CBN with authorization of the President, wherein the older versions of the denominations will lose their legal tender status is in flagrant violation of Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007, which states that reasonable notice must be given.
The attorneys general of the three northern states are the motion’s plaintiffs, and Abubakar Malami, the justice minister, is the only respondent.
The plaintiffs claimed that the Buhari regime failed to fulfill its responsibility to facilitate a seamless transition from the old banknotes to the new currencies.
The plaintiffs contended that the latest extension of the deadline for submitting old notes was insufficient to remedy the numerous issues plaguing the policy, citing a severe shortage of new notes in Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara.
The governors said the policy’s short implementation timeline, coupled with its attendant chaos and the misery it is causing Nigerians was unacceptable.
They are also requesting a declaration from the court that, in light of the plain stipulations of Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007, the federal government, acting through the CBN, lacks the authority to set a deadline for accepting and redeeming banknotes issued by the Bank, with the exception of the circumstances described in Section 22(1) of the CBN Act 2007.
The suit followed the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele’s comment over the weekend that the apex bank would not extend the deadline but would instead work with relevant stakeholders to facilitate the implementation of the policy.