BREAKING: Supreme Court fixes March 3 for judgement on Naira swap policy
The Supreme Court has fixed judgment for March 3 in suits filed by some States against the naira swap policy of the Federal Government.
A nine-member panel led by Justice John Okoro announced the date after taking final arguments from lawyers to parties in the cases.
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 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 to 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.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a national broadcast last Thursday, directed the apex bank to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days — by April 10, 2023. He also said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes cease to be legal tender in Nigeria.
There has been a flurry of reactions and stark criticisms against the President’s directive including from governors of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Umar Ganduje (Kano); Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and many stalwarts of the ruling APC have openly censured and faulted the President’s directive, arguing that it has not grounded because the case is before the apex court.
Leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria like Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome have equally faulted the President’s move, saying he cannot overrule the apex court of the land.
Also, three State Governors- Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi have filed another suit against Malami, and the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele over contempt of court and their alleged failure to comply with the Supreme Court order on the old naira notes.