The Supreme Court has said that the old N200, N500, and N1000 are still legal tender, insisting that its February 8 order barring the Federal Government and its agencies from enforcing the February 10 deadline still subsists.
The court made the clarification on Wednesday following a complaint by the lawyer to Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara states, Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN) that the Federal government and its agencies have failed to comply with the order and have allegedly directed the rejection of the old notes.
Mustapha said the plaintiff filed a notice of non-compliance with the order of the court order made on February 8 and demanded that the court take action against the respondent to protect the dignity of the court
He added: “That order has been flouted by the government. We are talking of executive lawlessness here. We have filed an affidavit to that effect…We want the court to renew the order for parties to be properly guided.”
Justice John Okoro, who presided over a seven-member panel of the court, asked Mustapha to file a proper application to put forward his complaints and to enable the respondent to respond appropriately.
Justice Okoro said there is no need for a renewal of the court’s order.He noted that, since the order made by the court on February 8 was made pending the determination of the motion for injunctions filed by the plaintiff, the order still subsists since the motion was not yet heard.
The court had, in the February 8 ruling, said: “After careful consideration of this ex-parte application, and the grounds in support of same, this court finds that there is real urgency for this court to intervene by the grant of this application.
“Accordingly, this application is hereby granted as prayed.
“That is to say, an order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government of Nigeria, either by itself or acting through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and/or the commercial banks, its agents; agencies, corporations, ministries, parastatals, organizations or through any person or persons (natural and artificial) howsoever, from suspending or determining or ending on the 10th of February 2023 the timeframe within which the now older versions of the 200, 500 and 1000 denominations of the naira may no longer be legal tender, pending the hearing and determination of the plaintiffs/applicants’ motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”
The Supreme Court has however fixed February 22 for a hearing of the suit filed by Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara states challenging the propriety of the naira swap policy of the Federal Government.
The court chose the date after joining the Attorneys General of Katsina Lagos, CR, Ondo, Ogun, Ekiti, and Sokoto states as co-plaintiffs in the earlier suit filed by Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara states.
The court also joined the Attorneys General of Edo and Bayelsa states as co-respondents. Both states elected to side with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) originally listed as the sole respondent.
The court ordered that the suits filed separately by Nasarawa, Rivers, and Kano states on the same issue be consolidated with the ones filed by Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara states.
The court ordered parties to file all necessary documents before the hearing set for next Wednesday.
Justice Okoro, before adjourning, told the lawyer to the AGF, Kanu Agabi (SAN) to advise his client to ensure the availability of currency for the people.
“Tell your client to let people have money. If they go to the ATM and the plaintiffs will come and withdraw the case. Make money available to the poor masses.
“You should know that a hungry man is an angry man. I say no more,” he said.
Responding, Agabi said Nigerians were only blaming the government for their poverty.
“Many people don’t have money. They blame it on the Federal government and the AGF. I don’t have money too.
“Things have been bad for a long time. It is not today that the problems started,” Agabi said.
Governors Nasir El-Rufai and Yahaya Bello of Kaduna and Kogi states were in court to witness proceedings.
Speaking after the court proceedings, Bello said the states are not at war with the Fed government over its cashless policy but are only concerned about its negative impact on the citizens, who are now denied access to their funds.