Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara govts drag FG, CBN to court over new naira
Concerned about the effects the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN)’s naira redesign policy is having on the citizens of their states, the governments of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara have dragged the Federal government before the Supreme Court, asking for a restraining order to prevent the policy’s full implementation.
The three northern states are asking the apex court to grant them an interim injunction to prevent the federal government from carrying out its plan to end the timeframe within which the now-outdated 200, 500, and 1000 denominations of the Naira may be used. This is stated in a motion ex-parte filed on their behalf by their lawyer, AbdulHakeem Uthman Mustapha (SAN), which News Point Nigeria was able to obtain on Monday morning.
The Attorneys General and Commissioners of Justice of the three states are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, is the only respondent.
The plaintiffs claimed that since the new naira note policy was announced, there has been an acute shortage of new naira notes in Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara States, and that citizens who have dutifully deposited their old naira notes are finding it harder and sometimes impossible to obtain new naira notes to conduct their day activities.
They also mentioned the notice’s inadequacy, as well as how carelessly the exercise is being carried out and the misery it is causing Nigerians, which has been well-acknowledged even by the federal government of Nigeria.
The Plaintiffs added that the federal government’s ten-day extension is still insufficient to address the problems plaguing the scheme.
Recall that the CBN Governor emphasized at a news conference held in Lagos over the weekend that the apex bank would not extend the deadline for exchanging old naira notes for the newly redesigned ones.
The plaintiffs also requested an order for an expedited hearing of this case in the complaint they filed with the supreme court. The motion seeks to shorten the time the respondent has to file and serve his counter-affidavit to this suit.
The states are asking for a declaration that the current Federal Demonetization Policy being carried out by the Central Bank of Nigeria on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s orders violates the provisions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution, 1999 (as amended), the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007, and the relevant laws.
Additionally, they are asking the court to rule that the three-month notice given by the federal government of Nigeria through the Central Bank of Nigeria pursuant to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, upon expiration of which the old banknotes will no longer be accepted as legal tender, is in flagrant violation of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, which states that Reasonable Notice must be given before such a policy.
The Plaintiffs are also requesting a declaration from the court that, in light of the express provisions of Section 20(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, the Federal Government of Nigeria, acting through the Central Bank of Nigeria, lacks the authority to set a deadline for accepting and redeeming banknotes issued by the Bank, with the exception of the circumstances described in Section 22(1) of the CBN Act 2007. The Central Bank must always redeem its currency.
The plaintiffs further ask the court to order an immediate suspension of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s demonetisation, which was carried out by the Central Bank of Nigeria on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s orders, until it conforms with the pertinent legal requirements.
In an affidavit filed in support of the suit and sworn to by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kaduna State, Aisha Dikko, she averred that although the naira redesign policy was introduced to encourage the cashless policy of the Federal government, it is not all transactions that can be conveniently carried out through electronic means.
She maintained that several transactions still require cash in exchange for goods and services hence the need for the Federal Government to have sufficient money available in circulation for the smooth running of the economy.
Dikko also pointed out that the Federal Government has embarked on the policy within a narrow and unworkable time frame, and this has adversely affected Nigerian citizens within Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara States as well as their Governments, especially as the newly redesigned naira notes are not available for use by the people as well as the State Governments.
“That the majority of the indigenes of the Plaintiffs’ states who reside in the rural areas have been unable to exchange or deposit their old naira notes as there are no banks in the rural areas where the majority of the population of the states reside.
“Most people in rural areas of the Plaintiffs’ states do not have bank accounts and have so far been unable to deposit their life savings which are still in the old naira notes.
“There is restiveness amongst the people in the various states because of the hardship being suffered by the people, and the situation will sooner than later degenerate into the breakdown of law and order.
“The Plaintiff State Governments cannot stand by as they are duty-bound to protect citizens in their states and prevent the breakdown of law and order.
“I know that if the Federal Government of Nigeria had given sufficient and reasonable time for the naira redesign policy, all the current hardship and loss being experienced by the Plaintiffs’ State Governments as well as people in the various states would have been avoided.
“I know that the 10-day extension by the Federal Government is still insufficient to address the challenges bedevilling the policy. I also understand that the Federal Government cannot bar Nigerians from redeeming their old naira notes at any time, even though the senior notes are no longer legal tender.
“Unless this Honourable Court intervenes, the Government and people of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara State will continue to go through a lot of hardship and would ultimately suffer great loss as a result of the insufficient and unreasonable time within which the Federal Government is embarking on the ongoing currency redesign policy,” she stated.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.