Naira Scarcity: 3 Northern States Drag FG To Supreme Court
The governments of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara have dragged the Federal government before the Supreme Court to halt the full implementation of the policy ending the validity of old N200, N500 and N1000 denominations on February 10, 2023
The three northern states, in a motion ex-parte filed on their behalf by their attorney, Abdul Hakeem Uthman Mustapha (SAN), are asking the supreme court to grant them an interim injunction to prevent the Federal Government from carrying out its plan to end the period within which the now-outdated 200, 500, and 1000 Naira denominations may no longer be legal tender on February 1.
The plaintiffs in the suit are the three Attorneys-General and Commissioners of Justice of the three states, while the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), is the sole respondent.
The plaintiffs claimed that since the new naira note policy was announced, there has been a severe shortage of new naira notes in Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara States and that citizens who have dutifully deposited their old naira notes are finding it harder and sometimes impossible to obtain new naira notes to conduct their daily business.
They also mentioned the notice’s inadequacy, how carelessly the exercise is being carried out and the hardship it is causing Nigerians, which has been well-acknowledged even by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The plaintiffs added that the ten-day extension granted by the federal government is still insufficient to address the problems plaguing the policy.
Although a date for the hearing has not been set, the states are seeking a declaration that the demonetisation policy of the Federation being currently carried out by the Central Bank of Nigeria under the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not in compliance with the extant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007, and actual laws on the subject.
According to TVC reports, the plaintiffs are also asking the court to make a declaration that the three-month notice given by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Central Bank of Nigeria under the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the expiration of which will render the old banknotes inadmissible as legal tender, is in gross violation of the provisions of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, which specifies that a reasonable notice be given before such a policy.
The plaintiffs also ask the court to declare that, in light of the explicit provisions of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, the Federal Government of Nigeria, acting through the Central Bank of Nigeria, lacks the authority to set a deadline for the acceptance and redemption of banknotes issued by the Bank, except for the circumstances specified in Section 22(1) of the CBN Act 2007. The Central Bank shall at all times redeem its bank notes.
The Plaintiffs further want the court to direct the immediate suspension of the demonetisation of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Central Bank of Nigeria under the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria until it complies with the relevant provisions of the law.
In an affidavit filed in support of the suit and sworn to by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kaduna State, Aisha Dikko, she averred that although the naira redesign policy was introduced to encourage the cashless policy of the Federal government, it is not all transactions that can be conveniently carried out through electronic means.
She maintained that several transactions still require cash in exchange for goods and services hence the need for the Federal Government to have sufficient money available in circulation for the smooth running of the economy.
Dikko also pointed out that the Federal Government has embarked on the policy within a narrow and unworkable time frame, and this has adversely affected Nigerian citizens within Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara States as well as their Governments, especially as the newly redesigned naira notes are not available for use by the people as well as the State Governments.
“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.
“I know that the 10-day extension by the Federal Government is still insufficient to address the challenges bedevilling the policy. I also understand that the Federal Government cannot bar Nigerians from redeeming their old naira notes at any time, even though the senior notes are no longer legal tender.
“Unless this Honourable Court intervenes, the Government and people of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara State 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,” she stated.