NAIRA REDESIGN: Again, S’Court Adjourns Suit As Cash Crunch Bites Harder

NAIRA REDESIGN: Again, S’Court Adjourns Suit As Cash Crunch Bites Harder

By Deborah MUSA, Abuja

Supreme Court has adjourned for judgement the suit brought before it by state governors over the deadline on which the  old naira notes seize to be a legal tender as ordered by the FG and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

A seven man panel of justices presided over by Justice John Okoro, yesterday fixed March 3 for judgement on the matter.

The decision came after hearing the applications presented by all parties in the matter, including fresh joinders from additional six states making it a total of 16 states joined as parties in the suit.

The court in a brief ruling, granted the request of the states and ordered consolidation of all 16 suits into one as all 16 states had originally challenged the Federal Government’s method of implementing the new naira and Cashless Policy, in separate applications.

The Supreme Court In it’s consolidation, stated that the issue in dispute revolves around Section 20(3) of the CBN Act, declaring that there was no need for more states to apply for permission to join the suit.

“We will no longer join any state in this matter. When we give our decision, whoever that is dissatisfied can file a fresh suit. There is still time”, the Court noted.

Recall that the Supreme Court had on February 15 , adjourned hearing on the naira swap deadline fixed by the CBN  for today February 22.

The Apex court, during the last week’s proceedings, stayed silent on giving fresh orders against the CBN while it directed the states challenging the Federal Government’s policy to amend and streamline their processes into one for hearing on February 22 , yesterday.

Recall that the  Supreme Court had earlier granted an exparte motion filed by the governments of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara seeking “an interim injunction restraining the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria ,CBN, or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on February 10, 2023, the time frame with which the old Naira notes in 200, 500 and 1,000 denomination may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction”.

Subsequently, 10 states filed application to join the suit. The states are : Lagos, Cross River, Ogun, Ekiti, Sokoto, Ondo, Jigawa, Kano, Rivers  and Katsina, w

while Bayelsa and Edo states later joined the AGF as respondents.

For Rivers and Kano states had filed separate suits before the apex court challenging the withdrawal limits imposed by the CBN.

Meanwhile, the Attorney-General of the Federation ,AGF, Abubakar Malami, SAN, filed a preliminary objection against the suit, urging the apex court to decline jurisdiction, adding that the OAGF was not the right person to be sued.

The plaintiffs later told the court in their processes, that the Federal govyernment did not comply with its first ruling on the exparte motion, having directed the usage of the old N200 currency 

At today’s hearing, the first and second plaintiff (Kaduna and Kogi states) counsel, Abdulakim Mustapha SAN, urged the court to dismiss the preliminary objection of the defendants.

The third plaintiff, Zamfara State asked the panel to set aside a directive issued by the president on February 16 concerning  the old N200 notes after the court’s last sitting amid its ruling.

Lagos State AGS. Moyosore J. Onibanjo SAN argued that he filed a motion on notice seeking for an order of the court prohibiting the AGF from being granted audience before this court until his principal, the president complies with the order made on February 8 which directed that old notes still remains legal tender pending the determination of the suit.

He contended that the policy being implemented by the CBN and commercial banks have affected the government ability to carry out its constitutional functions in the state.

A motion for consolidation was argued by Emmanuel Ukala, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN representing Rivers State.

Ukala while moving the motion on notice premised the consolidation request on the need for the suit to be heard without any hindrance since the matter bothers on same the  issue.

He, however, urged the court to set aside the entire naira swap policy of the Federal Government for being allegedly unconstitutional.

Speaking for the AGF, T.A Gazali SAN disagreed with the motion put forward by Rivers state, insisting that it should be dismissed.

The Kano State government’s lawyer, Sanusi Musa SAN, accused the president of sidelining the National Economic Council which includes the governors and members of the Federal Executive Council, before arriving at his decision on the policy.

He added that it was unconstitutional for the policy to be framed by Buhari and the CBN alone without alleged consultations with state governors.

Again, Gazali urged the court to dismiss the plaintiffs application.

AljazirahNigeria reports that the Apex court adjourns  the suit for judgement on Friday, March 3 for possible ruling. 

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