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Nigerians at Crossroads Over Old Naira Notes Deadline as CBN Website Goes Off

Residents of Nigeria are currently at a point where they must make a decision quickly on what to do with the old Naira notes in their possession.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in October 2022, announced that it was redesigning the N200, N500, and N1,000 currency notes. It then gave January 31, 2023, as the deadline to swap the old notes for new ones. This was later moved to February 10.

On Wednesday, February 8, 2023, the Supreme Court granted an interim injunction sought by the Governors of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara States to force the federal government to suspend the implementation of the old Naira notes deadline and fixed Wednesday, February 15, for hearing of the matter by the Governors, who want the old and new banknotes to co-exist until the former is naturally phased out of circulation.

The deadline for the return of the old currency notes ends today, and the CBN is yet to make any announcement on what the next line of action would be.

There have been reports that the apex bank may not obey the court order because it was not joined in the suit and that the dispute is between the federal government and the state governments.

But the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, was quoted as saying on Thursday that the government would adhere to the directive of the apex court.

“The order was granted by the Supreme Court, and the order was to lapse on Wednesday, which is the day of the hearing. With that position in mind, we have taken steps to file an objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.

“Jurisdiction on the grounds that when you talk of monetary policy regardless of the characters they take, the central bank is an indispensable and a necessary party for that matter.

“What we have at hand is a situation where the Central Bank is not joined as a party, and if the central bank as an institution is not joined as a party, the position of the law is clear that the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court cannot be properly invoked.

“So, we have given consideration to diverse issues, inclusive of the issue of jurisdiction and come Wednesday; we will argue the case from that perspective amongst others.

“I think what we are talking about is not whether the ruling is binding or not binding; we are talking about what we intend to do.

There is no doubt the fact that the ruling of the Supreme Court, regardless of the prevalent circumstances, is binding and then within the context of the rule of law, you can equally take steps that are available to you within the context of the spirit and circumstances of the rule of law.

“What we are doing, in essence, is compliance with the rule of law both in terms of obedience to the ruling and in terms of challenging the ruling by way of putting our own side of the story, putting across our case, challenging jurisdiction.

“So, the issue of obedience to the ruling of the Supreme Court is out of it we are wholeheartedly in agreement that naturally, we are bound by it and will comply accordingly, but within the context of compliance, we shall challenge the ruling by way of filing an application seeking for it to be set aside, it is all about the rule of law.

“The rule of law provides that there has to be obedience to the judgment and orders of the Supreme Court; the rule of law provides that when you are not happy with a ruling, you can file an application for setting aside and in compliance with the rights and privileges vested in us as a government we are equally looking at challenging the order and seeking for it to be set aside,” the AGF said when he appeared on Arise TV.

As of Thursday night, the website of the CBN had not changed the deadline for the old Naira notes from February. However, at the time of filing this report, the platform was done with the error message “Service Unavailable. HTTP Error 503. The service is unavailable.”

At the moment, some Nigerians with old currency notes do not know what to do, but they have an escape route provided by the central bank. The bank had earlier given them a grace period elapsing February 17, to return their banknotes to the CBN through their banks.



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