By Kayode Sanni-Arewa
Ten states have concluded plans to file contempt charges against the Federal Government (FG) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over their non-compliance with the March 3 judgement of the Supreme Court on the extension of the validity of the old naira notes.
The Conclave recalls that the Supreme Court ruled that the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes remain legal tender until December 31, 2023.
The Federal Government and CBN have however yet to implement the apex court order as Nigerians wait for their directives for the resumption of the use of the old denominations, with traders, filling stations, and transporters still refusing to accept the notes.
Many Nigerians still queue in commercial banks across the country to get either the old or new naira notes.
However, it was gathered that the governments of Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara, Ondo, Ekiti, Katsina, Ogun, Cross River, Lagos and Sokoto states, on Friday, March 10, 2023, served the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), the enrolled order of the Supreme Court on the extension of the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes to December 31, 2023.
By the service, the order became automatically applicable to all agencies of the Federal Government, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
It was learned that the 10 states have concluded plans to file contempt charges against Malami and CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, if they defy the order of the Supreme Court.
“We have finally served the Attorney-General of the Federation the enrolled order of the Supreme Court.
What we did on Friday was to fulfill all righteousness by serving the enrolled order on the AGF.
“The Federal Government has been evasive by claiming that it had not received the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgment, which we have obtained and made available to it.
“The burden is on Malami to act as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation to comply with the order.
There is no hiding place for the government; there is no excuse again. While we are waiting for the government's decision, the law provides us backing for Plan B,” one of the lawyers in the matter disclosed on Friday.
The enrolled order of the Supreme Court, which was obtained on Friday, read: “It is ordered that this suit has merit. That the demonetization directive/policy by the President of the Federation to wit: withdrawal of the old 200, 500, and 1000 naira notes is not consistent with the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which makes provision for the Executive power of the President of the Federation and the extant laws on the subject matter.
“That the three months' notice given for the implementation and completion of the said demonetization policy by which time the old N1,000, N500 and N200 naira notes shall cease to be legal tender does not satisfy the condition set out in Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007
That the President cannot unilaterally give a directive to embark on the demonetization policy pursuant to Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007 in view of Nigeria's Fiscal Federalism, the economic interest of the Constituents of the Federation and without consultation with, and advice from the plaintiff, individually, and in their capacity as members of the National Council of States and National Economic Council and that the directive cannot be given without consultation with, and advice from the cabinet, the National Security Council and other stakeholders.
That in issuing the directive for demonetization policy pursuant to Section 20(3) of the CBN Act, 2007 on behalf of the Federation of Nigeria, the President is under an obligation to ensure that adequate structures are put in place for the plaintiffs and Nigerian citizens prior to the implementation of the said directive.
“That the demonetization directive/policy by the President of the Federation to wit: withdrawal of the old N200, N500 and N1, 000 notes unlawfully impede the exercise of the Executive Powers of the plaintiffs' states and other obligations to facilitate and protect the welfare of the citizens of the said states pursuant to Section 5(2) and other provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended) as well as other extant laws
That the directive given by the President pursuant to Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007 limiting the amount that can be withdrawn and the charges therein without an enabling law is unconstitutional and not binding on the plaintiffs.
“That the directive of the President of the President of the Federation exercised is illegal to the extent that it restricts, without an enabling law, the rights of the plaintiffs to freely use their money in various bank accounts
That the old version of N200, N500 and N1,000 notes shall continue to be legal tender alongside with the new or redesigned version until 31st December, 2023.
“That the reception of old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes and the swapping of same with new Naira notes shall continue till 31st December, 2023.
“That all the consolidated suits listed in pp. 12-13 of the judgment shall abide this judgment.”
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and his Ondo State counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu, had accused Malami and Emefiele of deceiving President Muhammadu Buhari on the implementation of the naira redesign policy.
The governors also said Emefiele and Malami introduced the policy to cause hardship in the country after their failed presidential and governorship bids, saying it (policy) was their “revenge plan”.
The AGF and the CBN Governor have however yet to speak on the Supreme Court order extending validity of the old naira notes as of the time of filing this report.