Naira Redesign: End Of Buhari, Emefiele’s Romance


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After weeks of hide and seek coupled with high-level political power play, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday directed commercial banks to dispense and receive the old N200, N500, N1000 bank notes as ordered by the Supreme Court.

While the apex bank claimed that it gave the directives at a Bankers’ Committee meeting held on Sunday, many Nigerians believe it is a false claim as the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele bowed to pressure after President Muhammadu Buhari threw him under the bus for ignoring the order of the apex court in the land….. Continue Reading 

The whole hullabaloo started in October 2022 when the CBN announced the redesign of N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, and asked Nigerians to deposit their old notes before January 31, 2023 when they would cease to be legal tender. Many Nigerians complied with the directives but others were unable to meet up with the deadline.

Another major challenge was that the new notes were very scarce and were unavailable in some places. Many people who deposited the old notes were not given the new ones as replacement.

However, many Point of Sale (POS) operators, politicians and money hawkers at parties have the new notes as they were aided by some bank officials who hoarded the new notes.

After much outcry, the deadline was shifted to February 10 following difficulties in obtaining the new notes.

Thereafter, governors of Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi States dragged the federal government and the CBN to the Supreme Court over the time limit, and the court gave an interim order suspending the February 10 deadline. The three states were later joined by 13 other states bringing the total number of plaintiffs to 16, just as two other states took the side of the federal government.

Protests over inability to access the new notes erupted in many states, especially in Oyo, Ogun, Kano, Lagos, Delta and Rivers. Many bank staff were attacked while some banks were destroyed.

Some Nigerians lost their lives while struggling to withdraw money from banks while many traders lost their perishable goods as there were no buyers in sight.

On February 16, President Muhammadu Buhari in a nationwide address gave reasons why his administration embarked on the naira redesign and solicited their support to make it a success.

He however informed the public that due to the naira crisis, he has ordered the CBN to re-validate the old N200 notes as legal tender in the country.

Tempers flared as some governors, led by Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai rejected the president’s directives and declared that the old N500 and N1,000 notes would be acceptable in their states.

The governors also threatened to arrest traders and business owners rejecting the old naira notes as well as seal banks that failed to dispense the new notes to customers.

On Monday March 13, a seven-man panel of the apex court presided by Justice John Okoro, ruled that the old naira notes should circulate alongside the new notes until December 31.

The Supreme Court declared the naira redesign policy invalid on the grounds that it was not done with due consultation and in line with constitutional provisions.

The apex court held that “no reasonable notice was given as required by Section 20(3) of the CBN Act,” adding that the public only became aware of the policy through press remarks, which cannot qualify as a notice to the public.

Justice Emmanuel Agim, who delivered the judgment held that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot unilaterally take such a decision of currency redesign without consulting stakeholders which the plaintiffs are a part and to that extent his actions are invalid.

Agim, added that the CBN Governor’s meeting with the governors to explain the policy was not only an afterthought but also an admission that the federal government ought to have consulted the plaintiffs including other stakeholders before commencing the implementation of the policy.

Furthermore, Agim stated that the president in his February 16, broadcast admitted the hardship Nigerians were going through as a result of the policy.

While stating that such a policy of naira redesign is usually realised through partnership and not by handing down to the people, Justice Agim pointed out that the three-month timeline was not only too short, and maintained that the deadline was not in tune with the CBN’s Act and as such, unconstitutional.

Besides, the apex court argued that President Buhari usurped the powers of the CBN when he issued the directive banning the old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes from February 10, 2023.

The panel in their unanimous decision 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.

Amongst the reliefs granted are a declaration that the demonetisation policy is inconsistent with the CBN Act.

The apex court also declared that in issuing the policy, the president is under an obligation to carry the national council of states along.

The court in addition declared that the policy has impeded the functions of state governments, adding that the directive of the president is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

Agim accordingly ordered that the old version of the naira notes shall continue to be legal tender with the new naira notes until 23rd December 2023.

Earlier, the apex court had dismissed the federal government’s objection to the hearing of the suit on the claim that the court lacked jurisdiction to do so.

According to the apex court, there was sufficient evidence to show that the dispute is between the federal government and the state and not the CBN as argued by the defendants.

Many Nigerians jubilated as they believe the Supreme Court ruling will put an end to the naira scarcity imbroglio.

However, the presidency and the CBN refused to issue a statement complying with the directive, which further compounded the situation.

Though it did not issue any statement, it is believed that Emefiele said he was waiting for presidential directives on whether to comply with the apex court ruling.

Furthermore, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) issued a seven day ultimatum to the federal government to address the naira scarcity, threatening to force workers to sit at home if the directive is not complied with.

On Monday evening, President Buhari said he had not knowingly done anything to obstruct the administration of justice in the country and will not support any action by the CBN to disobey the Supreme Court

In a statement signed by his media aide, Garba Shehu, the presidency said “The president is not a micromanager and will not, therefore, stop the attorney general and the CBN governor from performing the details of their duties in accordance with the law.

In any case, it is debatable at this time if there is proof of wilful denial by the two of them on the orders of the apex court.

“The directive of the president, following the meeting of the Council of State, was that the Bank must make available for circulation all the money that is needed, and nothing has happened to change the position.”

According to Shehu, the president is an absolute respecter of judicial process and the authority of the courts.

“He has done nothing in the last eight or so years to act in any way to obstruct the administration of justice, cause lack of confidence in the administration of justice, or, otherwise, interfere or corrupt the courts, and there is no reason whatsoever that he should do so now when he is getting ready to leave office,” he said.

The presidential spokesman further stated that the negative campaign and personalised attacks against the president by the opposition and all manner of commentators were unfair and unjust, as no court order at any level has been issued or directed at him.

As for the cashless system the CBN is determined to put in place, Shehu said it is a known fact that many of the country’s citizens, who bear the brunt of the suffering, surprisingly support the policy as they believe that the action would cut corruption, fight terrorism, build an environment of honesty and reinforce the incorruptible leadership of the president.

“It is therefore wide off the mark to blame the president for the current controversy over the cash scarcity, despite the Supreme Court judgment.

“The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the president. President Buhari has also rejected the impression that he lacks compassion, saying that “no government in our recent history has introduced policies to help economically marginalised and vulnerable groups like the present administration.”

Following the statement from the presidency, the CBN issued a statement complying with the ruling of the Supreme Court. In a statement issued by its acting director in charge of corporate communications, Dr Isa AbdulMumin, the CBN said the new directive was in compliance with a Supreme Court judgment that had extended the use of the old currency notes till December 31, 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 CBN, as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court judgement of March 3, 2023,” AbdulMumin said in the statement.

The decision was taken after the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and 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 in part.

By May 29, President Buhari would have completed his tenure and is expected to hand over to a new administration. Already, the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is opposed to the manner in which the naira redesign was hastily done by the CBN.

Also, many of his supporters believed that Emefiele deceived President Buhari into embarking on the policy. They also believed that Emefiele who wanted to contest for the presidency on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) came up with the idea of the naira redesign in order to frustrate Tinubu’s presidential bid by causing public anger which will negatively affect the party’s chances in the presidential election.

It remains to be seen what his pronouncement will be on the naira redesign policy. But for now, Nigerians can heave a sigh of relief as the old banknotes will remain legal tender till the end of this year….. Continue Reading 

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