As the February 10 deadline for the use of old Naira notes crawls nearer, the Supreme Court has made a ruling. On Wednesday, it temporarily stopped the Federal Government or the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), from banning the use of the old naira notes from the expiry date.
The ruling was delivered by a seven-member panel led by Justice John Okoro, based on an exparte application brought by Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara states on Wednesday. They prayed the court to grant “an interim injunction stopping the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from ending the time frame within which the old 200, 500, and 1000 naira notes will cease to be legal tender.” They submitted that the “10-day extension is insufficient to address the challenges plaguing the policy.”
The counsel to the applicants, A. I. Mustapha, SAN, while moving the application on Wednesday, urged the apex court to grant the application in the interest of justice and the well-being of Nigeria.
He stated that the policy of the government has led to an “excruciating situation that is almost leading to anarchy in the land”.
While he referred to a CBN’s statistics which put the number of people who don’t have bank accounts at over 60 per cent, Mustapha lamented that the few Nigerians with bank accounts “can’t even access their monies from the bank as a result of the policy.”
The lawyer further argued that unless the Supreme Court intervenes, the situation will lead to anarchy because most banks are already closing operations.
Delivering ruling in the motion, Justice, Okoro held that after a careful consideration of the motion exparte this application is granted as prayed.
The Judge ruled: “An order of Interim Injunction restraining the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on Feb. 10, the time frame with which the now older version of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denominations of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”
The judge, therefore, adjourned until February 15, 2023, for hearing of the main suit.