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Supreme court stops CBN from enforcing Feb 10 deadline on old naira notes

BY Bolanle Olabimtan

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The supreme court has temporarily restrained the federal government from banning the use of the old naira notes from February 10, 2023.

A seven-member panel of the apex court led by John Okoro, made the ruling on Wednesday in an ex parte application brought by three states: Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara.

In a motion ex-parte filed before the supreme court, the three states are praying the court to grant an interim injunction stopping the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from ending the timeframe within which the old N200, N500, and N1000 notes will cease to be legal tender.

The plaintiffs said since the announcement of the policy, there has been an acute shortage in the supply of the new naira notes in their states.

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They argued that citizens who have dutifully deposited their old currency notes have increasingly found it difficult, and sometimes, next to impossible to access the new notes for their daily activities.

Asides from the unavailability of the new notes, the plaintiffs also submitted that the notice period given by the federal government was inadequate.

Moving the application on Wednesday, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, counsel to the applicants, prayed the apex court to grant the application in the interest of justice and the wellbeing of Nigeria.

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He said the policy of the government has led to an “excruciating situation that is almost leading to anarchy in the land”.

Mustapha also referred to statistics by the CBN which put the number of people who do not have bank accounts at over 60 percent.

The senior advocate added that Nigerians with bank accounts cannot even access their monies from the bank as a result of the policy.

He said most banks are already closing operations and unless the supreme court intervenes, the situation will lead to anarchy.

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After a careful consideration of the motion ex parte, the apex court granted the application.

“An order of interim injunction restraining the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on February 10, 2023, the timeframe with which the now older version of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denomination of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for interlocutory injunction,” Okoro said.

The matter has been adjourned to February 15, 2023, for hearing of the main suit.

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