The presidency has said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has no reason not to obey the ruling of the Supreme Court on old naira notes.
The presidency also clarified that the president did not direct Abubakar Malami, the attorney general of the federation (AGF), and Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), not to obey the supreme court ruling on the naira redesign policy.
In a statement on Monday, the presidency said: “The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President.”
On March 3, the Supreme Court in a ruling faulted the naira redesign policy introduced by the CBN, adding that the old notes of N200, N500 and N1000 remain legal tender till December 31.
The apex court made the declaration while delivering judgment in a suit instituted by three states of the federation.
A seven-member panel of the apex court held that the old N200, N500, and N1000 notes remain legal tender until December 31, 2023.
Days after the ruling, the CBN governor and the attorney general of the federation refuse to make any official statement about compliance with the ruling of the supreme court.
Reacting to the public concerns about the failure of the apex bank to comply with the ruling on Monday, the presidency in the statement insisted that there was no time that the president directed the AGF and CBN governor not to obey the ruling.
“The Presidency wishes to react to some public concerns that President Buhari did not react to the Supreme Court judgement on the issue of the N500 and N1,000 old currency notes, and state here plainly and clearly that. at no time did he instruct the Attorney General and the CBN Governor to disobey any court orders involving the government and other parties,” the statement reads.
“Since the President was sworn into office in 2015, he has never directed anybody to defy court orders, in the strong belief that we can’t practise democracy without the rule of law, and the commitment of his administration to this principle has not changed.
“Following ongoing intense debate about the compliance concerning the legality of the old currency notes, the Presidency, therefore, wishes to state clearly that Pres. Buhari has not done anything knowingly & deliberately to interfere with or obstruct the administration of justice.
“The President is not a micromanager and will not, therefore, stop the AG and CBN Gov from performing details of their duties in accordance with the law. In any case, it is debatable at this time if there is proof of willful denial by the two of them, of the orders of the apex Court.
“The directive of the President, following the meeting of the Council of State, is that the Bank must make available for circulation all the money that is needed and nothing has happened to change the position.
“It is an established fact that 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.
“The negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators is 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, it is a known fact that many of the country’s citizens who bear the brunt of the sufferings, 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 judgement.
“The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President.
The statement also said the president has 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.”