Naira Redesign: Attorney-General Malami Asks Nigerian Supreme Court To Dismiss State Governments’ Suit Seeking To End Old Notes Deadline

The preliminary objection was filed on Wednesday by the AGF through his lawyers – Mahmud Magaji and Tijanni Gazali.

Nigerian government through the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss a suit challenging the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The preliminary objection was filed on Wednesday by the AGF through his lawyers – Mahmud Magaji and Tijanni Gazali.

SaharaReporters reported on Wednesday that the Supreme Court temporarily halted the government’s move to stop the use of old naira notes on February 10, 2023.

This was stated in a ruling given by a seven-member panel led by Justice John Okoro for an ex parte application brought by three northern state governments of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara.

The three states had specifically applied for an order of Interim Injunction restraining “the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on February 10, 2023, the time frame with which the now older version of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denomination of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”

On Wednesday, Mr A. I. Mustapha, SAN, counsel for the applicants, urged the Supreme Court to grant the application in the interest of justice and the well-being of Nigeria.

He stated that the policy of the government had led to an “excruciating situation that is almost leading to anarchy in the land.”

While referring to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) statistics indicating that more than 60 per cent of Nigerians do not have bank accounts, Mustapha lamented that the few Nigerians who do have bank accounts are unable to access their funds as a result of the policy.

However, the Nigerian government in its preliminary objection argued that the Supreme Court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

President Muhammdu Buhari’s government is also asking the court to strike out the suit.

According to the defence lawyers, the suit falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in matters of monetary policy of an agency of the Federal Government.

“The claims or reliefs are not against the federation, but the Federal Government and its Agency, the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria is distinct from the Federation or the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Plaintiffs have no grievance whatsoever against the Federation of Nigeria.

“This suit has disclosed no dispute that invokes this (Supreme) Court’s original jurisdiction as constitutionally defined,” the AGF said.

Nigerians have been having difficulty obtaining the new naira notes – N200, N500 and N1000- as the February 10 deadline approaches.

Some banks in the state have been attacked, and protests in states such as Ogun and Oyo have been violent.

Banks have recently been the target of violent attacks. When riots erupted over the weekend in Ibadan, a Wema Bank branch was vandalised. Many banks have increased their security and caution as a result of this.

Due to the heightened tensions caused by the country’s protracted naira scarcity, some commercial banks on Tuesday ordered the closure of some of their branches until further notice.

Governors of the ruling party met with the President last week and pleaded with him to allow old notes and new ones to co-exist.

The president told them to give him seven days to look into the issues arising from the naira redesign.

However, after the meeting, Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, warned that the apex bank was not considering shifting the February 10 deadline for the old notes to cease being legal tender.

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