10 States want Supreme Court to set aside Buhari’s ban on old N500, N1,000 notes

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Sunday Ejike – Abuja

Ten states of the Federation have asked the Supreme Court to set aside the pronouncement of President Muhammadu Buhari banning old N500 and N1,000 notes in the country for being unconditional, over-reach and usurpation of the judicial power of the apex Court.

The ten State governors, in Suit Numbered, SC/CV/162/2023, filed on Friday by their counsel, A.J. Owonikoko (SAN), want the apex court to declare the President’s directives in his Thursday’s broadcast as unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs in the suit are the Attorneys General (AGs) of Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara, Ondo, Ekiti, Katsina, Ogun, Cross River, Sokoto, and Lagos states while the defendants are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), as well as the AGs of Bayelsa and Edo.

The plaintiffs, in a 12 grounds of application, argued that Buhari’s directive extending the validity of old N200 notes for 60 days and his ban on old N500 and N1,000 notes are, “unconstitutional overreach and usurpation of the judicial power” of the Supreme Court being that the case is already before the court.

They held that contrary to the order of the court, the substantive first defendant, through the President of the Federation and its agent, the CBN have repeatedly released statements that the old naira notes are no longer legal tenders, hence resulting in misleading the public on what your status quo to be complied with.

The counsel for the applicants cited Section 232(1), Section 6(6)(b) and Section 287(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which includes the protection of the Supreme Court’s dignity and which ensure compliance with its orders by all persons and authorities.

The 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, after an initial suit filed by the 10 states, held that the Federal Government, the CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the February 10 deadline pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue on February 22.

However, the President, in a national broadcast on 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.

In an affidavit deposed to by Sesan Adebayo, a litigation officer in the law firm of Synergy Attorneys said the interim order of the Supreme Court made on February 8 is still valid and subsisting, having been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court on February 25.

The deponent averred that, “On the last date of the court’s proceedings, the plaintiffs informed this court that they had filed an affidavit of the first defendant’s non compliance with the order of the court delivered on February 8, made a point of the conduct of the first defendant as indicative of executive lawlessness and affront to the dignity and authority of the court to handle this matter”.

He said while the defendant assured the court of compliance with the order of the court, President Muhammadu Buhari in a broadcast on February 26 openly flouted the order of the court by directing that the old N500, N1,000 notes, excluding the old N200 were no longer legal tender and same would not be accepted by the CBN and it’s branches or designated points.

He said with the subsistence of the Supreme Court order and the Presidential directive that came subsequent to the court order, there are presently toe conflicting set of facts and contrasting state of affairs in the public place on the fate of the old naira notes of N200, N500 and N1, 000 denominations as legal tender in the country and that Nigerians are at a lost on which to obey.

However, there have 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 no grounds 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.


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