Old Naira Notes: Supreme Court afraid of Buhari’s Govt, dodges issue of court contempt

February 22, 2023

2.4 min readCategories: News
  •   Says we refuse to be the scapegoat
  •  Fixes Judgement March 3

The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned judgement in the new naira policy suit to March 3, 2023.

With the apex court’s decision, Nigerians, especially consumer and business groups as well as professional and trade unions looking up to the apex court for a favorable judgment (today) that they expect will ameliorate their suffering, will have to wait.

The Supreme Court had on February 8 restrained the Federal Government from implementing the February 10 deadline for swapping the old naira notes with new ones, but the Central Bank of Nigeria refused to shift the deadline.

The injunction was sequel to a suit filed by Zamfara, Kogi and Kaduna state governments against the Attorney-General of the Federation on February 3.

Other states including Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti, Kano, Sokoto, Ogun and Cross River have also joined the suit as co-plaintiffs.

While taking arguments on Wednesday, counsel for the Federal Government, Kanu Agabi, said the Supreme Court held that all reliefs are rooted in section 20 of the CBN Act.

He argued that the apex court has no jurisdiction to hear the suit as the action cannot commence with an Originating Summons.

He also contended that the plaintiffs did not deem it fit to the CBN to court as a respondent despite making reference to the apex bank 32 times in their originating summons and despite the fact that seven of the reliefs sought relate to the CBN.

He asserted that Nigerians were already turning down the old notes way the President’s directive.

Agabi also asserted that by asking Nigerians to deposit their old naira at the CBN designated centres, the president was abiding by the court order and that Buhari is empowered under the constitution to veto any legislation.

During the proceeding, counsel for Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo, also prayed the court to prohibit the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, from defending the respondents while acting in contempt of initial court orders as he “comes tongue in cheek to ask for reliefs”.

He stated that the “issue of contempt supersedes issue of jurisdiction”.

Responding, Justice John Okoro stated, “You are not a stranger to this country. We don’t want a situation where the judiciary will be a scapegoat. We refuse to be the scapegoat.

“We are hearing this matter today. We don’t intend to keep this matter longer…whether they obey it or not.”

Following a series of declarations signalling late receipts of court servings, the court granted a short break.

On the resumed sitting, Abia State, which was initially denied joining the suit on the ground that it came late to the suit and was advised to present its case at a later date, became the most recent joiner.

After the short break, the state was admitted to join as a plaintiff in the suit.

Details later…

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About the Author: Olumide Akinrinlola

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