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Court Okays Nigeria’s Digital Currency, eNaira Launch As Company Sues CBN

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Court Okays Nigeria’s Digital Currency, eNaira Launch As Company Sues CBN

A Federal High Court has cleared the way for CBN to proceed with the launch of eNaira, Nigeria’s Digital Currency.

This is coming on the heels of a lawsuit which a company, ENaira Payment Solutions Limited, filed challenging the launch.

Here is what happened:

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on 27th September, floated the eNaira website amid planned launch of the digital currency.

The apex bank had severally given October 1st as the launch date, though it subsequently postponed the date.

Meanwhile, just 24 hours after the eNaira website went live, the site got more than a million hits.

That signified that interest in the country’s digital currency was very high.

Moreover, the CBN said the  eNaira platform will make for easier financial transactions for users of eNaira.

It also said eNaira website would provide users the opportunity to send money in form of peer-to-peer payments.

Describing the currency, CBN said the digital currency would serves as both a medium of exchange and a store of value.

It said eNaira offers a better payment prospects in retail transactions when compared to cash payments.

However, as the apex bank planned a nationwide launch of the digital currency, the company challenged it with a lawsuit.

The Law suit:

The the company, ENaira Payment Solutions Limited, filed a case challenging CBN’s use of the name eNaira.

Consequently, the CBN received a cease and desist notification which sought that it abort the planned launch.

The company filed the notice, signed by Olakule Agbebi Esq for Olakule Agbebi & Co.

The notice titled: “Infringement of Trademark & Violation of Corporate Name cease and desist Notification to the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

According to the notice, the solicitors claimed their client, “ENAIRA PAYMENT SOLUTIONS LIMITED (RC 508500)” has been incorporated in Nigeria since 2004 and registered in class 36 and class 42.

They claimed that CBN’s launch of the eNaira is a willful infringement on their client’s trademark.

ALSO READ: Nigeria’s eNaira Website Goes Live, Records One Million Hits In 24Hrs

The solicitors also claimed that their client has been exposed to damages, loss of business and loss of goodwill.

The notice read, “For this reasons, our client has approached the Federal High Court in Suit No: FHC/AB/CS/113/2021 between ENAIRA PAYMENT SOLUTIONS LIMITED vs CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA to seek a restraining order including an order to restrain CBN from proceeding in the launch on 1st October 2021.”

“In the interim, the CBN is hereby warned to cease and desist from using or purporting to use the name eNaira for its product or in any way.”

The plaintiff had urged the Federal High court, in a suit number  (FHC/ABJ/CS/113/2021), to stop the proposed launch of the eNaira over an alleged trademark infringement.

The High court Ruling:

However, the Justice Taiwo Obayomi Taiwo led Federal High Court, of Thursday, ruled on the case.

Delivering the ruling, the judge ordered that the CBN should proceed with the launch in the national interest and economic advancement.

CBN’s Principal Counsel, D. D. Dodo (SAN) had led the team for the defendant.

He had urged the court to strike out the Plaintiff’s Motion Exparte, saying eNaira is significant to the nation’s economic advancement.

Although the court did not strike out the plaintiff’s motion exparte but ordered the launch to proceed in the nation’s interest and the economic advancement.

The court adjourned the case to October 11, 2021 for further hearing.

CBN, again postpones eNaira launch date:

Again, the CBn has shifted the eNaira launch date from October 1st.

The apex bank had earlier said it would launch the digital currency today, October 1st.

However, in a statement, Thursday, by CBN’s spokesperson, Osita Nwanisobi, it shifted the launch date.

CBN said it shifted the date from October 1st to avoid interfering with Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary celebration.

“The CBN took the decision to postpone the launch, which had been initially planned to coincide with the Independence anniversary, in deference to the mood of national rededication to the collective dream of One Nigeria,” he said.

Implications:

Although the lawsuit by the company sought to abort the launch, clearly, the eNaira has come to stay.

Also, the ruling by the court stated the obvious, which is that the national interest supersedes individual’s interest.

Meanwhile, the eNaira will surely launch Nigeria as one of the world’s nations to evolve her currency.

Anthony Chinonso Ogbonna is the editor of Techuncode media. He is a seasoned journalist whose stint cuts across broadcast, print and, especially, the online media. A graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Anthony holds a Masters Degree in Multimedia Journalism. He aligns his belief with those of world tech communities, holding tenaciously that the world is solely driven and can only be best with tech. Furthermore, Anthony believes that technology is simple, fun and is not what one, especially Africans, should be scared of, hence, his passion for telling compelling stories about tech in ways relatable to the ordinary user. He has his hobbies in reading and designing (new hobby though.)

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