By David Akinmola
The Supreme Court on Wednesday affirmed that its order which temporarily barred the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from enforcing its February 10 deadline for the swapping of the old naira notes with the newly redesigned naira notes is still valid.
The apex court maintained its earlier ruling which allowed the use of old N200, N500, and N1,000 naira notes still subsist.
The clarification by the Supreme Court follows a complaint by Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN), lawyer to the Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara states respectively.
Lawyer to the plaintiffs accuses FG and its agencies of non-compliance with a court order
Mustapha during a court appearance said the plaintiff filed a notice of non-compliance with the order of court order made on February 8 and demanded that the court take action against the respondent to protect the dignity of the court.
Speaking during the proceeding, he said the Federal Government and its agencies have allegedly directed the rejection of the old notes thereby failing to comply with the February eight court order.
Mustapha said, “The order has been flouted by the government. We are talking of executive lawlessness here. We have filed an affidavit to that effect… We want the court to renew the order for parties to be properly guided.’’
Responding to the issues raised by the lawyer to the plaintiffs, Justice Okoro asked Mustapha to file a proper application and put forward his complaints. This, he said, would enable the respondent to respond appropriately.
According to Okoro, there was no need for a renewal of the court’s order since the order made by the court on February 8 was made pending the determination of the motion for injunctions filed by the plaintiff.
He, however, maintained that the order still subsists since the motion was not yet heard.
It would be recalled that on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, the Supreme Court in a ruling by a 7-member panel led by Justice John Okoro, temporarily halted the CBN’s February 10 deadline for the exchange of the new naira notes with the newly redesigned naira notes.
However, the Federal Government in its preliminary objection to the suit, insisted that the Supreme Court lacked the necessary jurisdiction to entertain the suit in the first place. It argued that the agency (CBN), whose Act was being complained about by the plaintiffs, was a statutory body with legal personality that could sue and be sued in its name.
In the Notice of Preliminary Objection filed by its lawyers, Mr. Mahmud Magaji, SAN, and Tijanni Gazali, the respondent claimed that the suit of the 3 states ought to have been instituted before a Federal High Court and not the Supreme Court, as done by the plaintiffs.
However, on Wednesday, the apex court adjourned a hearing in the suit banning the use of the old naira to Wednesday, 22nd February 2023. This is coming after 9 states joined the suit initially filed by Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara states.
The states are Katsina, Lagos, Cross River, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, and Sokoto states bringing the new total of plaintiffs to ten. On the other hand, Edo and Bayelsa have filed to be joined as respondents.