by Suoyo Ekubo
The Supreme Court of Nigeria has temporarily halted the move by the Federal government to ban the use of the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes as legal tenders from February 10.
The Supreme court gave the order while delivering judgment in the exparte application filed before it by the Kaduna, Zamfara, and Kogi state governments against plans by the FG to stop the use of the old Naira notes.
The three states had applied for an order of interim injunction restraining the FG through the Central Bank of Nigeria or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on February 10, 2023, the time frame in which the older versions of the N200, N500 and N1000 notes may no longer be legal tenders
Moving the application today, counsel to the applicants, Mr A. I. Mustapha, SAN, had urged the apex court to grant the application in the interest of justice and the well-being of Nigeria. Mustapha argued that the policy of the government had led to an “excruciating situation that is almost leading to anarchy in the land “.
While he referred to a Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) statistics which put the number of people who don’t have bank accounts at over 60 percent, Mustapha lamented that the few Nigerians with bank accounts can’t even access their monies from the bank as a result of the policy.
The senior lawyer further argued that unless the Supreme Court intervenes the situation will lead to anarchy because most banks are already closing operations.
Delivering ruling in the motion, the seven-man panel led by Justice John Okoro, held that after a careful consideration of the motion exparte this application is granted as prayed, “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 time frame 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”.
He accordingly adjourned to February 15, 2023 for hearing.