BusinessLaw & JusticeNewsNigeriaOld naira notes: court bars CBN, Buhari from extending deadline

…As political party chairmen secure order barring a move to shift cash policy

An Abuja Federal  High Court has restrained  President Muhammadu Buhari, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, and twenty-seven listed commercial banks from suspending, stopping, extending, or interfering with the currency redesign terminal date of February 10th or issue any directive contrary to the February 10 date.

In a Motion by five out of the eighteen political parties, the Court presided over by Justice Enenche also granted an order directing the Chief Executive Officers (CEO’s) of the banks and their alter egos to show cause why they should not be arrested and prosecuted for the economic and financial sabotage of the country by their illegal hoarding, withholding, not paying or disbursing the new N200 N500 and N1000 bank notes despite the supply of such notes by the Central Bank.

According to the report the order of the Court has rendered futile all behind the scene efforts especially by governors of some states to force the hand of the President to reverse the policy or at least extend same, even as some governors were fingered to be behind the moves to stop the policy.

The order also ties the hands of bank CEO’s and their staff who have been alleged to be hoarding the new banknotes and trading with them thereby causing untold hardship to ordinary citizens.

Following the order, a cross-section of lawyers, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and ethnic youth groups interviewed,  commended the order, stressing that it is best for the country and would afford stakeholders the opportunity to concentrate on how to ameliorate the hardship occasioned by the policy.

Groups such as Arewa Consultative Youth Movement, Ohanaeze Youth Movement, Oduduwa Youth Assembly commended the order.

According to the report, Arewa Youths said that looters of the commonwealth of the people have lost out while Ohanaeze Youths insisted that vote buyers and election riggers have been relegated just as Oduduwa Youth hold the view that kickbacks would be very difficult now, corruption greatly limited and a chance for money laundering made slimmer.

A continental CSO, the African Centre for Justice and Human Rights says the order of the court is the first step in sanitizing the country’s financial market and helps in conducting very credible polls as politicians would find it extremely difficult if not impossible to have access to cash to compromise elections.

Reports also indicated that members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign were not pleased with the order as they had been hopeful that the campaign would have championed a successful action against the policies as they had put the President under immense pressure in the last few days leading to the President asking Nigerians to grant him seven days to resolve the issues.

In the 27 grounds by the applicants, they made out a case showing that politicians who ostensibly are in possession of illicit funds are the ones who want the policies suspended.

By Uzoamaka Ikezue (Staff Reporter)

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