The Central Bank of Nigeria has directed commercial banks to dispense and receive old naira across the country maintaining that the Old N200, N500, And N1,000 Banknotes Remain Legal Tender .
CBN in a statement released on March 13, 2023 titled, “Old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes Remain Legal Tender – CBN’, said the directive was in compliance with Buhari’s administration obedience to court orders
The statement read, “In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law Principle that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court judgement of March 3, 2023.
Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023.
Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly.“
Meanwhile, one week has passed since the court issued its order, but the AGF and the CBN have remained silent on the verdict. This lack of response has encouraged Nigerians and businesses to refuse to accept old notes as legal tender.
Furthermore, state governments who filed a lawsuit against the Federal Government regarding the naira redesign policy, have given a deadline of Tuesday for the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the currency.
The state governments have threatened to charge the two top officials with contempt on Tuesday if they do not comply with the apex court’s ruling. The court ordered that the old N1,000, N500, and N200 notes should remain in circulation alongside the new notes until December 31, 2023, as reported by Naira Diary.
The judgment was given by a seven-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice John Okoro, with other justices including Emmanuel Agim, Amina Augie, Mohammed Garba, Ibrahim Saulawa, Adamu Jauro, and Tijanni Abubakar.
Justice Agim delivered the judgment and held that President Buhari had violated the constitution in the manner he directed the redesign of the naira. Regarding the disregard of the earlier Supreme Court order on the new notes, Justice Agim stated that Buhari’s February 16, 2023 broadcast, in which he declared that only the N200 note should remain legal tender, made the country’s democracy appear insincere.
Justice Agim stated, “Let me consider the issue of the President’s disobedience of the 8-2-2023 interim order that the new and old versions of naira notes continue to circulate as legal tender until the determination of the pending application for interlocutory injunction. It is not in dispute that the 1st defendant refused to obey the said order.
“The President’s 16-2-2023 national broadcast reproduced here in pages 27-31 demonstrates this disobedience. In disobedience of the order, he directed that only the old N200 naira notes be re-circulated. Interestingly, there is nothing to show the implementation of even that directive. I agree with the 9th plaintiff that the 1st defendant is not entitled to be heard by this court when it has effused to respect the authority of this court and the authority of law from which the authority of the President and the government of Nigeria derives.
“The rule of law upon which our democratic governance is founded becomes illusory if the President of the country or any authority or person refuses to obey the orders of courts. The disobedience of orders of courts by the President in a constitutional democracy as ours is a sign of the failure of the constitution and that democratic governance has become a mere pretension and is now replaced by autocracy or dictatorship.”