Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara has ordered the arrest of anyone who refuses to accept the old currency notes of two hundred, five and one thousand naira in the state.
He said the old currency notes remain legal tender until the final verdict of the case instituted against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the federal government by three Northern Governors of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara States at the supreme court.
Matawalle stated this at the swearing-in ceremony of new High Court Judges and newly appointed special Advisers held at the Government House, Chamber II in Gusau, the state Capital.
He explained that, he and his counterparts of Kogi and Kaduna states approached the supreme court to order the extension and validity of the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes.
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“As you are all aware, the economy of the country as a whole has been plunged into a serious crisis by the decision of the Central Bank to cease recognition of the old naira notes as legal tender from February 10th. This decision compounded the already dire situation of our State occasioned by banditry and sundry crimes, which significantly disrupted economic activities in the State and the subregion over the years,” Gov. Matawalle said.
“It was in consideration of the grave consequences of this disruptive policy which was not well thought out, that I took the decision to team up with the sister states of Kaduna and Kogi to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court to ensure that both the new and old naira notes remain as legal tender beyond February 10th. Gladly, the Supreme Court has given an interim injunction barring the CBN from enforcement of its plan of derecognizing the old notes as legal tender from today, pending its final ruling on the matter on February 15th.”
Matawalle also commended the Supreme Court for “doing the needful”, which he said will alleviate the suffering of the masses.
“This courageous decision by the Supreme Court has no doubt saved the country from sliding into a crisis of great proportion that may affect the peace and stability of the country and possibly prevent the holding of the general elections billed for this month.”
“I have joined in this salvaging mission, notwithstanding my proximity and good rapport with His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari,” he maintained.
Nigerians have had a hard time getting the new notes amid scarcity and rising tension across the country, forcing the apex bank to extend the deadline by 10 days.
President Buhari had on February 3 implored Nigerians to give him seven days to resolve the cash crunch that has become a problem across the country from the policy of the CBN.
The president made the call while speaking to the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) who paid him a visit to seek solutions to the cash crunch, which they said was threatening the good records of the administration in transforming the economy.
The Council of State had asked the CBN to make new notes available or recirculate the old ones.