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How Nigeria’s apex bank flouted supreme court ruling until Buhari speaks

On March 3, the Supreme Court in a ruling faulted the naira redesign policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), adding that the old notes of N200, N500 and N1000 remain legal tender till December 31.

A view shows Nigeria's Central Bank headquarters in Abuja
A view shows Nigeria's Central Bank headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria November 22, 2020. Picture taken November 22, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

On March 3, the Supreme Court in a ruling faulted the naira redesign policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (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, challenging the naira redesign policy of the CBN.

Days after the ruling, the apex bank refused to issue any directive nor comply with the judgement by the Supreme Court.

On March 13, the president in a statement said the attorney general of the federation, Abubakar Malami and the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele has no reason to defy the ruling.

It was only a moment after the president’s statement that the CBN rushed to release a statement saying the bank has directed all deposit money banks operating in the country to comply with the judgement of the apex court on the use of old notes as legal tender till December 31.

The press release titled “Old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes Remain Legal Tender – CBN”, signed by Isa AbdulMumin, acting director of corporate communications, ordered commercial banks to comply.

“Old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes Remain Legal Tender – CBN In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law Principle that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court judgement of March 3, 2023.  

“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023.  Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly”, the statement reads.

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