The apex court in the land, the Supreme Court, on Wednesday, temporarily stopped the withdrawal of old naira notes from circulation.
Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, through its governor, Godwin Emefiele, had announced a February 10 deadline for the change from the old to new naira notes.
The Supreme Court of Nigeria restrained the Federal Government from implementing the February 10 deadline for the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes to stop being legal tenders.
Three Northern states – Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara – had in a motion ex-parte filed on February 3, prayed the apex court to halt the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice John Okoro, in a unanimous ruling, granted an interim injunction, restraining the Federal Government, the CBN, commercial banks, and their privies and/or agents, etc, from implementing the February 10, deadline for the old 200, 500 and 1000 Naira notes to stop being a legal tender.
The court further held that the Federal Government, the CBN, commercial banks and/or their agents or privies must not continue with the deadline, pending the determination of a notice on notice in respect of the issue on February 15.
By this ruling, the old Naira notes continue to be legal tenders in Nigeria.
By this ruling, the old naira notes continue to remain legal tenders in Nigeria until otherwise decided by the court.
This ruling also condemned to the dust bin the ruling of a High Court, which barred the CBN from extending the deadline for the demonetisation policy.
Meanwhile, the ensuing crises over the February 10 deadline for the validity of three largest denomination of the old naira notes assumed another dimension on Monday, with five political parties and three state governments instituting legal battles.
Whilst the Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states governments dragged the Federal Government before the Supreme Court, seeking an extension to the February 10 deadline, five political parties took the matter to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court and secured an order barring the Federal Government and the apex bank from any extension of the deadline.
The CBN had on October 26, 2022, announced its plan to redesign the three banknotes. President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently unveiled the redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 notes on November 23, 2022, while the apex bank fixed a January 31 deadline for the validity of the old notes.
The CBN also pegged its weekly cash withdrawal limits to N500,000 for individuals and N5m for corporate firms.
With cries by many Nigerians, the apex bank extended the deadline from January 31 to February 10, saying it got the approval of the President.
But, Buhari, on Friday, after a meeting with some All Progressives Congress, APC, governors asked for seven days to make a major decision on the policy.