The Supreme Court of Nigeria has maintained that the old naira continues to be legal tender in the country. By this, Nigerians can continue to use the old naira.
This is coming as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, also insists that the old naira ceases to be legal tender.
The CBN has further maintained that the February 10 deadline for the old currency to stop being legal tender remains.
Although CBN maintained its ground, Nigerians and some state governors have rejected the stand, with angry youths leading protests and vandalising banks and ATMs across the country.
But What has the Supreme Court said?
On Wednesday (today), the supreme court adjourned a hearing in the suit against the federal government to prevail on its agency, the CBN not to go ahead in banning the old naira.
The apex court adjourned the case to Wednesday, 22nd February 2023.
This is coming as nine other states have joined the suit initially filed by Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara states against the federal government.
At today’s ruling by the apex court where it adjourned the case, counsel to Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, asked the court to make an order directing the FG and CBN not to implement a deadline on the old naira notes.
However, a seven-member panel of the apex court led by John Okoro, said there was no need to issue a fresh order as “the interim order is pending the hearing on the motion on notice”.
What this means is that the interim order by the Supreme Court that old naira remains legal tender stands pending the judgement on 22nd February, 2023.
Its An Offense For Banks, Filling Stations, Anybody To Reject Old Naira:
By the Supreme Court’s order, it becomes an offense for anybody, be it banks, filling stations, POS agents, even your neighbour or traders to reject the old naira before February 22nd.
The CBN also, technically, would be disobeying the apex bank’s order by insisting that the old naira notes stops being legal tender.
This can be so in that the CBN, although is an autonomous body, is also an agency of the Federal Government.
By being FG’s agency, the order to FG by the court can see the CBN obeying it on that ground.
Ruling on an ex parte application brought by three states, the supreme court, on February 8, restrained the CBN from giving effect to the deadline on the use of old notes.
Supreme Court had issued an interim injunction “restraining the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on 10 February, the time frame with which the now older version of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denominations of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for interlocutory injunction”.
Argument For CBN Stance:
Meanwhile, although the CBN is an agency of the government, it is autonomous. Its constitutionally stipulated actions are backed by the law.
The CBN Act of 2007 backs the CBN to make monetary policies in the country.
Also, there is the argument of jurisdiction. That the Supreme Court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Proponents have said that the matter is the sole jurisdiction of the High Court.
The governors who had sued the FG did not include the CBN in the suit.
Going by this, the CBN can technically say it has not flouted any court order since it cannot obey an order outside the jurisdiction affecting it.
Also, the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami who is the sole respondent in the suit, subsequently filed a preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Nigerians protest, vandalise Banks, ATMs:
Meanwhile, Nigerians have taken to the streets to protest #NairaScarcity.
Also, some Nig