The Supreme Court of Nigeria has on Wednesday adjourned the case on the New Naira swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) till Wednesday, February 22 for a hearing of the consolidated suits by 10 states.
Present at the court were Senior Advocates of Nigeria, lawyers, and the governors of Kaduna and Kogi states, Nasir El-Rufai and Yahaya Bello, respectively.
The apex court had temporarily banned the implementation of the February 10 deadline of the CBN from making the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes legal tender.
These governors had instituted the suit against the Federal Government and the CBN.
The other states who had also applied to be joined in the suit included Niger, Kano, Ondo, and Ekiti.
Lagos State government through its Attorney General, Moyosore Onigbanjo, also applied, seeking to be joined in the suit.
Bayelsa State, led by Damian Dodo, has also applied to be joined in the suit as a respondent. Similarly, Edo State applied to be joined as a respondent.
Rivers through its counsel, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala SAN stood its ground not to team up with other states adding that it would prefer to do its case separately.
A seven-member panel led by Justice John Okoro halted the move in a ruling in an exparte application brought by three northern states of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara.
The three states had specifically applied for 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 Feb. 10, 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”.
Delivering the ruling in the motion, Okoro, held that after a careful consideration of the motion exparte this application is granted as prayed.
“An order of Interim Injunction restraining the federal government through CBN or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on Feb. 10,, 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 interlocutory injunction.”
He accordingly adjourned until Feb. 15, for a hearing of the main suit.
Moving the application on Wednesday, counsel to the applicants, Mr. A. I. Mustapha, SAN, urged the apex court to grant the application in the interest of justice and the well-being of Nigeria.
He stated that the policy of the government has led to an “excruciating situation that is almost leading to anarchy in the land “.
While he referred to a CBN’s statistics which put the number of people who don’t have bank accounts at over 60 percent, Mustapha lamented that the few Nigerians with bank accounts can’t even access their monies from the bank as a result of the policy.
The senior lawyer further argued that unless the Supreme Court intervenes the situation will lead to anarchy because most banks are already closing operations.