Our position on N500, N1,000 notes- CBN
CITIZENS COMPASS– BARELY ten days after the Supreme Court’s ruling on old Naira notes, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday announced a new position on the old N200, N500, N1,000 notes saying that they remain legal tender till December 31, 2023.
The apex body also directed that the old Naira notes will co-exist with the redesigned notes for that period of time.
CBN’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin disclosed this in a statement on Monday, March 13, 2023.
“In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law Principle that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023.
“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023.
“Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly,” the statement read.
The Supreme Court,,c had on March 3 ordered that old N200, N500 and N1000 notes remain valid till December 31, 2023.
This was after 16 states of the Federation instituted a suit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introduction of the policy.
The 16 states led by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara had prayed the apex court to void and set aside the policy on the ground that it is inflicting hardships on innocent Nigerians.
The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari’s disobedience of its February 8 order is a sign of dictatorship, adding that the President breached the Constitution of the Federation in the way he issued directives for the re-designing of the Naira by the CBN.
After the March 3 judgement by the Supreme Court, the Presidency, CBN and the AGF kept mum, throwing many bank customers and Nigerians into confusion as the ruling of the apex court contradicted the directive of the President on February 16 that old N500 and N1000 notes are banned and old N200 notes remain valid till April 10.
However, the Presidency broke its silence on Monday, saying the President never told the CBN and the AGF not to obey the order of the apex court.
“The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President,” the Presidency noted.
The Presidency also said the President is an absolute respecter of the rule of law and that the “negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators is unfair and unjust”.
The Supreme Court had on Friday, March 3, 2023, in a ruling, directed that the old N200, N500 and N1,000 shouid co-exist with the new Naira notes till December 31, 2023 but there was agitation among members of the public as some Nigerians have been rejecting the old Naira notes as a legal tender while some banks have been waiting for further directives from both the CBN and the Presidency.
Before the Match 3 ruling,, the apex bank has issued a directive that N500 and N1,000 old Naira notes should be deposited at the bank after filling a form and generating a code from CBN.
Meanwhile, state governments, which sued the Federal Government on the naira redesign policy, have given the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, till Tuesday to comply with the order of the Supreme Court on the currency.
The state governments threatened to file contempt charges against the two top officials on Tuesday should they fail to obey the apex court which ordered that the old N1,000, N500 and N200 should be in circulation alongside the new notes till December 31, 2023.
The apex court had ordered that the old naira notes be allowed to circulate side by side the new notes until December 31, 2023.
A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice John Okoro gave the judgment. Other justices that sat on the case are Emmanuel Agim, Amina Augie, Mohammed Garba, Ibrahim Saulawa, Adamu Jauro and Tijanni Abubakar.
In the judgment delivered by Justice Agim, the apex court held that Buhari breached the constitution in the manner he issued directives for the redesigning of the naira.
On the disobedience of the Supreme Court’s earlier order on the new notes, Justice Agim said Buhari’s broadcast of February 16, 2023 that only the N200 note should remain legal tender made the country’s democracy look like a mere pretension.
Justice Agim stated, “Let me consider the issue of the President’s disobedience of the 8-2-2023 interim order that the new and old versions of naira notes continue to circulate as legal tender until the determination of the pending application for interlocutory injunction. It is not in dispute that the 1st defendant refused to obey the said order.
“The President’s 16-2-2023 national broadcast reproduced here in pages 27-31 demonstrates this disobedience. In disobedience of the order, he directed that only the old N200 naira notes be re-circulated. Interestingly, there is nothing to show the implementation of even that directive. I agree with the 9th plaintiff that the 1st defendant is not entitled to be heard by this court when it has effused to respect the authority of this court and the authority of law from which the authority of the President and the government of Nigeria derives.
“The rule of law upon which our democratic governance is founded becomes illusory if the President of the country or any authority or person refuses to obey the orders of courts. The disobedience of orders of courts by the President in a constitutional democracy as ours is a sign of the failure of the constitution and that democratic governance has become a mere pretension and is now replaced by autocracy or dictatorship.”