- No information on apex court ruling – CBN source •Nigerians cautious over
- acceptance of old naira notes •Akeredolu to FG: Implement judgment immediately
Buck passing appears to be stalling the federal government’s immediate execution of Friday’s judgment of the Supreme Court that the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes remain as legal tender until December 31, 2023.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami (SAN), who is the chief adviser to the federal government on law, claimed yesterday that his brief excluded advice on monetary policy.
For the second day running, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday kept mute on the judgment, refusing to advise Nigerians on the next line of action.
Consequently, Nigerians are yet to start accepting or spending the old notes.
Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu urged the Federal Government to immediately put into effect the spirit and the letter of the Supreme Court judgment on the cash swap policy.
Malami could not be reached for comments yesterday.
Contacted by The Nation, his media aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu, was also silent on the minister’s disposition to the Supreme Court judgment.
Rather, he urged the media to educate the public that his roles did not include advising on monetary policy issues.
Gwandu said: “It is important that the educational role of the mass media be exercised in this direction.
“The media is an important tool for education and enlightenment.
“Let us use the media to inform the general public that the functions of the office of Attorney General do not include monetary policy regulation.”
When his attention was drawn to a recent example where the AGF was categorical on the FG’s disposition to the February 8th interim injunction issued by the Supreme Court, Gwandu declined comment.
Malami had, during an appearance on a private television station shortly after the Supreme Court issued the interim injunction, said the order was binding on the FG.
He said: “I think what we are talking about is not whether the ruling is binding or not binding; we are talking about what we intend to do.
“There is no doubt about the fact that the ruling of the Supreme Court, regardless of the prevailing circumstances, is binding and then within the context of the rule of law.
“You can equally take steps that are available to you within the context of the spirit and circumstances of the rule of law.
“And what we are doing in essence is in compliance with the rule of law both in terms of obedience to the ruling and in terms of challenging the ruling by way of putting across our own side of the story, putting across our case, challenging jurisdiction.
“So the issue of obedience to the ruling of the Supreme Court is out of it. We are wholeheartedly in agreement that naturally, we are bound by it and will comply accordingly.
“But within the context of compliance, we shall challenge the ruling by way of filing an application seeking for it to be set aside. It is all about the rule of law.”
Still no comment from CBN
The Central Bank also remained silent on the Supreme Court judgment.
An official of the apex bank told The Nation that the communications department had not been informed of any development on the issue.
Asked when the CBN would start releasing cash to the banks, the official said: “We don’t have that information.”
The Supreme Court had on Friday ruled that the old banknotes will remain as legal tenders while also declaring that the N20,000 withdrawal limit set by the apex bank was illegal.
Without any official pronouncement from the CBN, Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) cannot act outside the last instruction given to them by the CBN, which is that N20,000 will be the withdrawal limit for individual account holders.
The latest withdrawal threshold, The Nation learnt, has put doubts in the minds of many Nigerians who now prefer to save their money outside the banking system.
Asked if the Supreme Court judgment describing the N20,000 withdrawal limit as illegal will negatively impact the CBN’s cashless policy, another official of the CBN said: “The cashless policy has been in operation since 2012 and many Nigerians are already keying into the idea.”
Emefiele is partisan of injustice and oppression, says Akeredolu
Reacting to the Supreme Court ruling yesterday, Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, urged the Federal Government to immediately put into effect the spirit and the letter of the Supreme Court ruling on the cash swap policy.
Akeredolu said his own administration at the state level would not hesitate to proceed against persons and institutions whose activities impede its ability to discharge statutory obligations to the people.
The Ondo Governor said there was no justification for the pains Nigerians were subjected for obvious political reasons.
Akeredolu hailed the ruling of the apex court and claimed CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami misadvised the President to assume the powers of an emperor answerable only to himself and no other authorities, contrary to the provisions of the law.
“It is deplorable to witness small businesses collapse with unbelievable rapidity. We have been regaled with tales of the dehumanisation of ordinary Nigerians who have been forced to strip themselves naked in banking halls, weeping to be given their monies kept with the banks.
“Some have lost their lives needlessly for being unable to access their deposits in the banks upon demand,” he said.
“The Governor of the CBN acted most irresponsibly when he claimed to be exercising powers which the CBN Act does not invest in his office.
“He was quoted as saying that he was fighting corruption, money laundering and vote-buying. He acted ultra vires, goaded by his political permutations.
“The AGF equally misled the President to act beyond the limits of his executive powers. Nigerians have been punished unduly. As the Supreme Court has pronounced, the law must be allowed to rule.
“We enjoin the Federal Government to obey the ruling of the Supreme Court immediately as there is no other alternative open to it.
“There is no gain in asserting the obvious. The whole policy may have been well conceived. Its implementation has been politically driven.
“The CBN Governor is a partisan of injustice and oppression. Most governments, perhaps with the exception of a negligible few motivated by the possibility of deriving unexpressed political advantages, cannot meet simple obligations to their citizens. It is most unfortunate.”
In its unanimous judgment on the old notes on Friday, a seven-member panel of the apex court, led by Justice John Okoro, said the procedure adopted by government in effecting its cashless/naira swap policy was wrong.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, in the lead judgment, berated the President for disobeying the orders of the court halting the banning of the old naira notes.
“The disobedience of the orders of the Court is a sign of the failure of rule of law,” the apex court held and subsequently granted all the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.
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