Supreme Court of Nigeria has ruled that the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes can still be used till December 31, 2023.
The Supreme Court seven-member panel led by Justice John Okoro unanimously ruled that the CBN must continue to receive the old notes from Nigerians.
Adding that the action of President Muhammadu Buhari to ban the old naira notes did not follow constitutional provisions.
Supreme Court held that the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari for the redesign of the new notes and withdrawal of the old notes without due consultation is invalid and unconstitutional.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, a member of the panel, who read the lead judgement, also condemned the President’s disobedience of the apex court earlier order on 8 February, 2023 that the old 200, 500, and 1,000 naira notes should continue to circulate alongside the new ones pending the determination of the case before it.
Adding, the president’s broadcast of 16 February that only 200 naira notes should remain legal tender made Nigeria’s democracy look like a mere pretension while democracy is replaced with autocracy.
Supreme Court thereafter ruled and invalidated the new naira design policy initiated by the Federal Government on the grounds that it was not done with due consultation and in line with constitutional provisions.
The Apex court ordered that the old naira notes shall continue to be used side by side with the new naira notes till December 31, 2023.
Supreme court held that the three months timeline was also not in tune with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Act and as such unconstitutional.
The apex court argued that president Buhari illegally took over the powers of CBN when he issued the directive banning the old naira notes of 1,000, 500 and 200 notes from February 10, 2023.
Supreme Court rejected the defendants’ argument that the court lacks jurisdiction to decide on the case.
According to Punch Newspaper, Justice Agim stated that the act of the president and government of Nigeria is an act of the federation.
The court held that the dispute is between the states and the government of the federation and within the original jurisdiction of the apex court.
It held that the government of the federation should have held adequate consultation to avoid massive disruption of government operations and trades.
It invalidated the argument that the CBN was the proper party to be sued, maintaining that it is not the action of the CBN that is being challenged but the validity of the decision of the President to redesign naira, release the new notes into circulation and withdraw the old notes without consultation with Nigerians through the council of states and the National Economic Council.
The court held that the CBN does not have to be joined as a party in the suit as the CBN has no power to carry out the policy without the directive of the president and that the suit is not an action against the banks or the CBN.