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Naira: CBN’s non-compliance with S/Court verdict contemptuous – Yadudu, Falana

A renowned constitutional lawyer, Professor Auwalu Yadudu and a human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), have described the refusal by the Central Bank of Nigeria…

A renowned constitutional lawyer, Professor Auwalu Yadudu and a human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), have described the refusal by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to comply with the Supreme Court judgement on the old naira notes as contemptuous and the highest disregard for the rule of law.

Last Friday, in a unanimous judgement, a seven-member panel of justices of the Supreme Court, presided over by Justice Inyang Okoro, ordered the circulation of the old naira notes alongside the new ones until December 31.

The panel held that the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the CBN for the redesign and withdrawal of the old  N200, N500 and N1,000 notes without consultation with the states, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the National Council of State and other stakeholders, was unconstitutional.

Six days after the judgement, the apex bank and the federal government are yet to act on it, thus the confusion in the country.

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Daily Trust had exclusively reported that some commercial banks on Monday commenced the disbursement of the old N500 and N1,000 notes to their customers.

However, the CBN said it has not directed the banks to do so.

Traders, transporters and fuel station attendants have insisted that they will not accept the old naira notes until the CBN announces a new directive.

Speaking in separate interviews with Daily Trust yesterday, Yadudu and Falana said it was quite unfortunate that President Muhammadu Buhari would allow this disregard for the rule of law to be his swansong.

It’s total contempt of court – Yadudu

Yadudu said, “it is a brazen disregard and total contempt of court order; not any court but the highest court of the land, and it is the most irresponsible thing for any agency of government or any elected official of government to be so brazen about it.”

On what it means for the judiciary and rule of law, Yadudu, a former legal adviser to late General Sani Abacha, said, “It doesn’t tell well, and my greatest worry is that Mr President has descended into the fray and it will appear that whatever the CBN is doing has his blessing, and this is the worst case of disregard for the rule of law that the president can leave behind.

“Even when an interim order was given, he (the president) chose to disregard it completely and even to issue his decree as to what note will remain a legal tender and which will not. I think this is the saddest point in the administration of Mr. President that such a disregard of a court order can be made under his watch and with his manifest approval.”

Yadudu said to safeguard the integrity of the rule of law and judiciary, citizens must outrightly condemn the action and not just that, but “also approach the court to seek that all those involved in this disregard of a court order be admitted for contempt of court order.”

Commercial banks do not require CBN authorisation to comply  – Falana

On his part, Femi Falana (SAN) said commercial banks do not require any authorisation or directive from the CBN or the federal government to dispense the old naira notes as ordered by the apex court.

“The counsel to the government, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), disclosed to the entire nation after the judgement that the judgement would be complied with. So, the CBN governor is being misled by saying that he has not authorised the commercial banks to dispense the old notes.

“We urge the commercial banks to disregard the contemptuous statement of Mr Godwin Emefiele because he is not required by law to give any directives.

“By virtue of Section 287 of the Constitution, the decision of the Supreme Court is binding on all authorities and persons in the entire federation and it takes immediate effect,” he said.

Falana said, “The banks are following the rule of law by dispensing with the old notes; they do not require the authorisation of Mr Emefiele or that of the AGF, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who has said he is not in the position to advise the president on monetary policies.

“The matter has gone beyond his legal advice. The judgement has taken effect, and the banks are doing the right thing by following the rule of law, and nobody can penalise them for following the rule of law.”

The senior lawyer also urged the lawyers of the plaintiffs to serve all the commercial banks with certified true copies of the orders of the Supreme Court.

“It has to be made clear to all and sundry that this country is run based on the rule of law,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Presidency yesterday remained silent over last Friday’s decision of the Supreme Court, which extended the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes to December 31, 2023.

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