The Supreme Court has been summoned by the governments of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara states in order to prevent the Federal government from fully implementing its policy regarding the newly redesigned Naira notes.
The redesign of the 200, 500, and 1000 Naira notes was announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria in October 2022. The deadline for exchanging the old notes was set by the apex bank at 31 January. The bank was had to extend the deadline to February 10 due to the fact that many Nigerians were unable to access the freshly redesigned notes. Many Nigerians today struggle to get access to money because the majority of banks they visit claim they don’t have the new Naira notes available.
Concerned by this development, the Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara state governments have petitioned the Supreme Court for an interim injunction to prevent the Federal Government from ending the period during which the 200, 500, and 1000 Naira denominations of the Naira may be used. They have done this through the representation of AbdulHakeem Uthman Mustapha (SAN), who has filed a motion ex-parte on their behalf.
According to Channels TV, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), is the only Respondent in the case, with the three Attorneys-General and Commissioners of Justice of the three states serving as the Plaintiffs. The plaintiffs claimed that there has been a severe shortage of new naira notes in Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara States since the announcement of the new policy, and that citizens who have dutifully deposited their old naira notes are finding it harder and harder—and occasionally impossible—to obtain new naira notes to carry out their daily activities.
They also criticized the notice’s inadequacy, the exercise’s sloppy execution, and the associated misery it is causing Nigerians, which has been publicly acknowledged even by the Federal Government of Nigeria itself. The Plaintiffs added that the Federal Government’s ten-day extension is still insufficient to address the problems plaguing the scheme.
The plaintiffs also requested an order for an expedited hearing of this case in the suit they filed with the supreme court. The motion seeks to shorten the time the respondent has to file and serve his counter-affidavit to this suit. The states are asking for a declaration that the current Federal Demonetization Policy being carried out by the Central Bank of Nigeria on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s orders violates the provisions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution, 1999 (as amended), the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007, and the relevant laws.
Additionally, they are asking the court to rule that the three-month notice given by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Central Bank of Nigeria pursuant to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, upon expiration of which the old banknotes will no longer be accepted as legal tender, is in flagrant violation of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, which states that Reasonable Notice must be given before.
The Plaintiffs are also requesting a declaration from the court that, in light of the clear language of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, the Federal Government of Nigeria, acting through the Central Bank of Nigeria, 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 Central Bank must always redeem its currency. The plaintiffs further ask the court to order an immediate suspension of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s demonetisation, which was carried out by the Central Bank of Nigeria on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s orders, until it conforms with the pertinent legal requirements.
Aisha Dikko, Kaduna State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, stated in an affidavit submitted in support of the lawsuit that while the federal government’s cashless policy was encouraged by the introduction of the naira redesign policy, not all transactions can be carried out conveniently by electronic means. According to her, a number of exchanges for products and services still require cash, therefore the federal government must have enough money in circulation to ensure the efficient operation of the economy.
The Federal Government began implementing the policy in a constrained and impractical time frame, which had a negative impact on Nigerian citizens in Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara States as well as their governments. This is especially true given that the newly redesigned naira notes are not yet available for use by the general public or by State governments.
That the majority of the indigenes of the Plaintiffs? states who reside in the rural areas have been unable to exchange or deposit their old naira notes as there are no banks in the rural areas where the majority of the population of the states reside. Most people in rural areas of the Plaintiffs? states do not have bank accounts and have so far been unable to deposit their life savings which are still in the old naira notes. There is restiveness amongst the people in the various states because of the hardship being suffered by the people, and the situation will sooner than later degenerate into the breakdown of law and order.
The Plaintiff State Governments cannot stand by as they are duty-bound to protect citizens in their states and prevent the breakdown of law and order. I know that if the Federal Government of Nigeria had given sufficient and reasonable time for the naira redesign policy, all the current hardship and loss being experienced by the Plaintiffs? State Governments as well as people in the various states would have been avoided.
I know that the 10-day extension by the Federal Government is still insufficient to address the challenges bedevilling the policy. I also understand that the Federal Government cannot bar Nigerians from redeeming their old naira notes at any time, even though the senior notes are no longer legal tender. Unless this Honourable Court intervenes, the Government and people of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara State will continue to go through a lot of hardship and would ultimately suffer great loss as a result of the insufficient and unreasonable time within which the Federal Government is embarking on the ongoing currency redesign policy, she stated
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.