Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Thursday, said the appetite of President Muhammadu Buhari for flouting court orders again has become public knowledge with his placement of a blanket ban on old N500 and N1,000 notes despite an order of the Supreme Court saying the old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes should remain legal tender till a determination on the case on February 22.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the President had in a similar fashion disobeyed an Appeal Court ruling granting unconditional bail to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu late 2022.
The group said Buhari is laying a very bad precedent by flagrantly disobeying court orders which is crucial for the sustenance of democracy and its values.
HURIWA said Buhari should know enough that democracy is about the rule of law and not by fiat and decree as done by military heads of state of which the President was once one from December 1983 to August 1985. The group cautioned that the President should not rule Nigeria like a country under military rule.
Many protests and vandalisation of banks and ATM outlets have rocked states like Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Delta, Oyo, Ogun, amongst others in reaction to the hardship faced by the common man over the naira redesign policy.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had extended the deadline for the swap of old N200, N500, and N1,000 from January 31 to February 10 following complaints by many Nigerians but the Supreme Court held that the Federal Government, the CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the deadline pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue on February 22.
But the President, in a national broadcast on Thursday, ordered the apex bank to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days. He said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes are no longer legal tender in Nigeria.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The President’s knack for the disregard of law and order is legendary as displayed again on Thursday morning during his broadcast on the naira redesign policy. HURIWA rejects the President’s fiat and demand his compliance with the Supreme Court order directing that status quo be maintained on the matter till its hearing on February 22.
“The deaths and killings of protesters angry over the artificial scarcity of new naira notes by security agents is also condemnable. We, therefore, call for the arrest and prosecution of the trigger-happy soldiers and police over the extrajudicial execution. We also demand the prosecution of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele for complicity in the killings since he created the whole chaos in the first instance.”
February 16, 2023
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.