By Eloho Igbru
President Muhammadu Buhari is not giving up on his failed naira redesign policy after he challenged the decision of the Supreme Court yesterday to suspend the banning of the old naira as medium of exchange after the February 10, 2023 deadline.
The federal government in a preliminary suit asked the supreme court to dismiss a suit filed by three states challenging the February 10 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to end the use of old naira notes.
An objection filed on behalf of the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) by his lawyers Mahmud Magaji and Tijanni Gazali, argued that the supreme court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
The AGF contended that “the plaintiffs have equally not shown reasonable cause of action against the defendant”.
But in a temporary ruling by a seven-member panel of the apex court led by John Okoro , the bank gave a temporary ruling in favour of a suit filed by Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara seeking to restrain the federal government from implementing the February 10 deadline for the use of the old naira notes.
In a motion ex-parte filed before the supreme court, the three states are praying the court to grant an interim injunction stopping the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from ending the timeframe within which the old N200, N500, and N1000 notes will cease to be legal tender.
The plaintiffs said since the announcement of the policy, there has been an acute shortage in the supply of the new naira notes in their states.
They argued that citizens who have deposited their old currency notes have increasingly found it difficult, and sometimes next to impossible, to access the new notes for their daily activities.
Aside from the unavailability of the new notes, the plaintiffs also submitted that the notice period given by the federal government was inadequate.
However, in opposition to the suit, the AGF claimed that the suit ought to have been instituted before a federal high court and not the supreme court as done by the plaintiffs.
“The plaintiffs’ suit is about the power vested on the Central Bank of Nigeria by the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 to call in its banknotes and introduce new ones,” the notice reads in part.
“This suit as presently constituted falls under section 251(1)(a)(p)(q) & (r) of the Constitution (exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court) by virtue of the subject matter and parties. The instant suit is an abuse of judicial process. That it is in the interest of justice to strike out this suit. That the plaintiffs will not be prejudiced if this preliminary objection is upheld.
“The plaintiffs have no grievance whatsoever against the Federation of Nigeria. This suit has disclosed no dispute that invokes this court’s original jurisdiction as constitutionally defined.
“This suit is an abuse of judicial process. The plaintiffs have no locus standi to institute this action. The plaintiffs have no reasonable cause of action against the defendant.”