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Old naira notes must remain in circulation till December, Supreme Court rules

The Supreme Court has ordered the circulation of the old naira notes alongside the new ones until December 31. In a unanimous judgment, a seven-member…

The Supreme Court has ordered the circulation of the old naira notes alongside the new ones until December 31.

In a unanimous judgment, a seven-member panel of justices presided by Justice Inyang Okoro, on Friday, held that the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the redesigning and withdrawal of old notes of N200, N500 and N1000, without consultation with the states, the Federal Executive Council and the National Council of State, was unconstitutional.

The apex court observed that no reasonable notice was given before the implementation of the policy as provided under the CBN Act.

The lead judgment read by Justice Emmanuel Agim also dismissed the preliminary objection by the federal government challenging the jurisdiction of the apex court to hear the suits by the 16 states challenging the currency policy.

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The panel held that the CBN, being an agent of the federal government, need not be joined as a party in the matter.

The Supreme Court had earlier ordered commercial banks and others financial institutions to continue transacting with the old notes pending the determination of the motion at the apex court on February 15.

The supreme court had again on February 15 said its order suspending the implementation of the February 10 deadline on the old naira notes still subsists and moved the case against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the naira redesign policy to Wednesday, February 22.

On February 22, the case on the currency swap policy was further adjourned to March 3, 2023 for judgement in the suit filed by Zamfara, Kogi and Kaduna state governments.

The President had on February 16 addressed citizens amid protests in some states across the country over the scarcity of cash following the implementation of the currency redesign policy by the CBN.

He had permitted only old N200 notes to be recirculated as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes to ease the supply pressures particularly to citizens, declaring that old N1000 and N500 notes were no longer legal tender.

However, the action fell short of the demands of the governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who had asked that the President directed an adequate injection of the new notes and the continued utilisation of all old ones until the end of the year to cushion the negative effects which the policy decision to redesign the currency had on their constituencies.

More governors had joined those dissatisfied with the decision of the Federal Government to phase out N500 and N1000 notes.

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