By Tosin Tope
Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to obey the Supreme Court’s judgment on the validity of the old naira notes.
In a statement issued at the weekend in Akure, the state capital, Mr Akeredolu said the President should immediately direct Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to revert to the status quo on the N1000, N500, and N200 old notes.
The Supreme court, in a unanimous decision by a seven-member panel of Justices, led Justice Emmanuel Agim, held that the old banknotes should remain valid legal tenders until December 31, 2023.
It held that the old Naira notes should also be used alongside the redesigned currencies.
In his statement, Akeredolu said, “We enjoin the Federal Government to obey the ruling of the Supreme Court immediately as there is no other alternative open to it.
“As we enjoin the officials of the Federal Government who may be directly involved in putting into effect the spirit and the letter of the Supreme Court ruling to do so immediately, the Ondo State Government will not hesitate to proceed against persons and institutions whose activities impede its ability to discharge statutory obligations to the people.”
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But speaking further in his statement, Akeredolu saluted the courage of the Justices of the Supreme Court for the well-considered ruling.
He noted that the Buhari-led federal government was “misadvised” by Mr Emefiele and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
“The Government and the people of Ondo State received the news of the ruling of the Supreme Court on the punitive implementation of a monetary policy, hurriedly packaged to achieve a pernicious end by Mr Godwin Emefiele, with great relief.”
“The CBN Governor and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice misadvised the President to assume powers of an Emperor answerable only to himself and no other authorities as enshrined in the law.
“It is deplorable to witness small businesses collapse with unbelievable rapidity. We have been regaled with tales of the dehumanisation of ordinary Nigerians who have been forced to strip themselves naked in banking halls weeping to be given their monies kept with the banks. Some have lost their lives, needlessly, for being unable to access their deposits in the banks upon demand.”
According to Mr Akeredolu, the governor of the CBN acted most irresponsibly when he claimed to be exercising powers, that the CBN Act does not invest in his office.
“He was quoted as saying that he was fighting corruption, money laundering and vote- buying. He acted, ultra vires, goaded by his political permutations. The AGF equally misled the President to act beyond the limits of his executive powers. Nigerians have been punished unduly.As the Supreme Court has pronounced, the law must be allowed to rule. There are statutory functions allotted to bodies in the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
“These bodies must be allowed to exercise those functions. Anyone purporting to act in contravention of the extant laws does so, either ignorantly or mischievously. The letters of the law are simple and understandable if the people in authority embrace less mischief.
“We congratulate the States which challenged this obnoxious policy implementation and hope that our banks will release the deposits of Nigerians in their custody upon demand forthwith as there will be grave consequences for continued seizure of the hard-earned monies of citizens.
“There is no gain asserting the obvious. The whole policy may have been well conceived. Its implementation has been politically driven. The CBN Governor is a partisan of injustice and oppression. Most Governments, perhaps with the exception of a negligible few motivated by the possibility of deriving unexpressed political advantages, cannot meet simple obligations to their citizens. It is most unfortunate.
“There is no justification for the pains to which our people have been subjected for obvious political reasons,” Mr Akeredolu added in the statement.