Bayelsa, Edo States joined as respondents
Feb 8 order on status of old Naira subsists
By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Supreme Court of Nigeria has joined the Attorneys General of Katsina, Lagos, Cross Rivers, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, and Sokoto states as co-plaintiffs in the suit challenging the Naira Redesign policy of the Federal Government.
The various state governments had, through their Attorneys General, applied to be joined in the suit against the FG.
The Supreme Court also explained that its February 8 order barring the Federal Government and its agencies from enforcing the February 10 deadline for the use of old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes still subsists, and that there was no need to issue another one as demanded by the plaintiffs.
The court gave the explanation Wednesday after the lawyer to Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states, Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN) complained that the Fed Govt and its agencies had refused to comply with the order and had allegedly directed the rejection of the old notes.
Mustapha said the plaintiff filed a notice of non-compliance with the court order made on February 8. He 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 was 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 a 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 Wednesday, February 22 for hearing of the suit filed by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states challenging the propriety the naira swap policy of the Federal Government.
The court chose the date after joining the Attorneys General of Katsina, Lagos, Cross River, Ondo, Ogun, Ekiti and Sokoto states as co-plaintiffs in the earlier suit filed by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states.
The court ordered that the suits filed by separately by Nasarawa, Rivers and Kano states on the same issue be consolidated with the one 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 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…. 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..
“Things have been bad for long. 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 were not at war with the Fed Govt over its cashless policy, but are only concerned about its negative impact on the citizens, who are now denied access to their funds.
However, Bayelsa and Edo states, applied and were joined by the Apex court as co-respondents in the matter. Both states chose to side with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) originally listed as the sole respondent.
The 7-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Inyang Okoro, had earlier ordered the plaintiff to amend the originating process to reflect the co-plaintiffs joined.
Recall that in a unanimous ruling on February 6, the Supreme court granted an interim injunction restraining the FG, CBN, commercial banks etc from implementing the February 10, deadline for the old 200, 500 and 1000 Naira notes to stop being a legal tender.
The court further held that the FG, CBN, commercial banks etc must not continue with the deadline pending the determination of a motion on notice in respect of the issue on February 15.