February 10 deadline on naira swap: Judge orders CBN on compliance, El-Rufai, Bello, Matawalle drag FG to Supreme Court

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As the scarcity of old and new Naira notes lingers, Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara state governments have jointly dragged the federal government before the Supreme Court over the February 10 deadline for the expiration of the old naira notes.

The three states are controlled by the  All Progressives Congress(APC) governors namely, Nasir el-Rufai, Yahaya Bello and Mohammed Mutawallen respectively.   

Specifically, they are seeking an order of the Supreme Court restraining the both the federal government and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from implementing the naira redesign policy.

However, in the contrary, a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court Abuja has ordered  the CBN to go ahead with the full implementation of the naira redesign policy.


Challenging the naira redesign at the apex court, the three states which filed the action through their Attorneys-General averred that both the old and the new Naira notes were scarce, thereby affecting people, especially the poor.

Plaintiffs In the suit are  the three Attorneys-General and Commissioners for Justice, while the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami (SAN) is the sole Respondent.

Filing an ex-parte motion through their lawyer, AbdulHakeem Uthman Mustapha (SAN), the states are urging the Supreme Court to grant them an interim injunction, stopping the federal government either by itself or acting through the CBN, the commercial banks or its agents from carrying out its plan of ending the timeframe within which the now older versions of the 200, 500 and 1000 denominations of the Naira may no longer be legal tender  February 10, 2023.

“Unless this Honourable Court intervenes, the Government and people of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara States will continue to go through a lot of hardship and would ultimately suffer great loss as a result of the insufficient and unreasonable time within which the Federal Government is embarking on the ongoing currency redesign policy,” Mustapha averred.

According to the motion,  there had been “shortage in the supply of the new naira notes in Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states and that citizens who have dutifully deposited their old naira notes have increasingly found it difficult and sometimes next to impossible to access new naira notes to go about their daily activities and transactions.”

The states said the CBN policy was imposing a lot of hardship on Nigerians, and that the 10-day extension by the federal government was still insufficient to address the challenges of swapping their old Naira notes for new ones.

“That the majority of the indigenes of the Plaintiffs’ states who reside in the rural areas have been unable to exchange or deposit their old naira notes as there are no banks in the rural areas where the majority of the population of the states reside.

“Most people in rural areas of the Plaintiffs’ states do not have bank accounts and have so far been unable to deposit their life savings which are still in the old naira notes.

“There is restiveness amongst the people in the various states because of the hardship being suffered by the people, and the situation will sooner than later degenerate into the breakdown of law and order.

“The Plaintiff State Governments cannot stand by as they are duty-bound to protect citizens in their states and prevent the breakdown of law and order.

“I know that if the Federal Government of Nigeria had given sufficient and reasonable time for the naira redesign policy, all the current hardship and loss being experienced by the Plaintiffs’ state governments as well as people in the various states would have been avoided,” the three states further submitted.

Court stops extension

In the contrary however, an FCT High Court has directed the CBN to go ahead with the full implementation of the naira redesign policy.

Delivering a ruling Monday in a suit marked FCT/HC/CV/2234/2023, the court restrained the CBN from extending the deadline on the use of old naira notes.

The order is  for an initial period of seven days until the motion of notice is heard February 14.

The suit was brought before the court by  Action Alliance (AA), Action Peoples Party (APP), Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and National Rescue Movement (NRM).

The suit had the  CBN, President Muhammadu Buhari and several deposit banks as defendants.

Giving his ruling, Justice Eleojo Enenche ordered the CBN not to extend the deadline pending the determination of the suit.

“An order of interim injunction is hereby made restraining the defendants whether by themselves, staff, agents, officers, interfacing banks or whosoever not to suspend, stop, extend, vary or interfere with the extant termination date of use of the old N200, N500, and N1000 bank note being 10th day of February, 2023, pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice,” the court held.

Justice Enenche further made an order of interim injunction “directing and mandating the defendants whether by themselves, staff, agents, officers, interfacing banks or whosoever described to comply with, implement and give effect to the currency redesign and restructuring of the old N200, N500, and N1000 bank note on or before the last day of 10th of February, 2023, pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice.”

The court further held that the bank heads, chief executive officers, managing directors and/or alter egos “to forthwith show cause as to why they shall not be arrested and prosecuted for the economic and financial sabotage of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by their illegal act of hoarding, withholding, nor paying or disbursing the new N200, N500 and N1000 bank note, being the legal tender of the federal republic of Nigeria to their respective customers, despite supplies of each such currency note by the 2nd and 3rd defendants, thereby leading to the present scarcity of currency notes in circulation.”

 Abuja bank manager in EFCC net

Meanwhile, an operations manager of a leading commercial bank in Abuja Central Area was arrested Monday by operatives of the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) for refusing to load the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) of the bank despite having N29 million of the redesigned Naira notes in the branch’s vaults.

 A statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said: “Before he was whisked away for further questioning, the operatives ordered the loading of all the ATMs and the payment of the stipulated amount across the counter to the delight of the distraught customers who had spent hours on queues without getting the new notes.”

“This discovery, which indicates a sabotage of the government’s monetary policy by some banks, was made by the EFCC in continuation of the ongoing surveillance and visit to banks across the country to access their vaults and verify whether they were deliberately refusing to dispense the redesigned Naira notes. More than five bank branches were covered today by the operatives in Abuja. Similar exercises were ongoing in zonal commands across the country,” the statement further said.

He said ”the operation will continue until normalcy is restored to the banking system.

“Nigerians finding it difficult to access their funds at any bank and suspects foul play should contact the commission, for immediate intervention.”

Pro-CBN protest in Abuja

Also, protesters under the aegis of Pro-Nigeria Group, Monday stormed some parts of Abuja, including the Unity Fountain and the CBN Head Office in support of the naira redesign.

In their numbers, the protesters carried various placards supporting of the CBN policy.

“Na who wan buy votes be criminal, support the CBN.”; ‘Mr. President expose their corruption”; “We believe in Nigeria”; “Good Nigerians support the new CBN naira policy”; and “CBN expose the hoarders of the naira,” some of the placards

Briefing journalists, leader of the group,   Isaac Balami, said: “We are here as concerned Nigerian citizens and not as political parties. We are here to talk about the monetary policy at the CBN.

“The CBN had given 10-day extensions and the politicians in this country are trying to play politics, to blackmail the CBN and possibly blackmail the president to go back on his words. We are here to support the CBN monetary policy. This policy by the CBN will stop vote- buying. Vote-buying is a major problem that has destroyed Nigeria. Enough is enough,” he added.

Balami also said the apex bank had released enough money to all the banks, claiming “the  politicians are buying it at a higher cost at the black market rate, thereby frustrating the citizens to go against the CBN.”

Ibadan protest stopped

In Ibadan, Oyo state capital, security operatives moved against similar gathering in front of University of Ibadan (UI), with various placard inscriptions condemning the naira redesign.  

Report says no fewer than 15 patrol vans of men of Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Army and Amotekun Corps were on standby to forestall a  breakdown of law and order.

Notwithstanding the futility of their efforts, one of Comrade Lekan Adisa of “Take it Back Movement” , who was part of the protest, said: “Enough is enough, this hardship must stop, the security men are intimidating us with their ammunition, the numbers of security here is more than the protesters.”

He debunked the claim in some quarters that they were being used by some politicians.

Osun threatens mass protest

Also from Osogbo, Osun state, Civil Society Coalition threatened to occupy the street if urgent step was not taken to address the suffering occasioned by cash crunch and  fuel scarcity. 

At a press conference Monday, the group warned that the impending protest may be more massive than the EndSARS  if the issues were not urgently addressed.

Leader of the group, Comrade Waheed Lawal, said Nigerians were going through hell in getting fuel and cash for personal use and business purposes. 

“The scarcity of fuel and cash is a calamity that needed to be addressed urgently. Nigerians have been pushed to the wall, and this ongoing provocation, if care is not taken, might trigger violent protests nationwide in which #EndSARs might be child’s play. 

“Economically, the scarcity of cash has crippled many businesses and further pushed millions of Nigerians far below the poverty line. Petty traders no longer make sales because of cash transactions which their trading depends upon. We make bold to say that this financial policy of the Federal Government is doing more harm than good presently. There should have been another way of maintaining a balance between cash control and the well-being of the people.

“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to be more sensitive to the plight of the people. May we alert him that Nigeria is fallen apart under the watch of his administration? The return of fuel scarcity is nothing but a pointer to the success or otherwise of his administration. We demand an end to fuel scarcity now! We need the president to be compassionate in addressing the fuel scarcity,” he added.

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