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At Last , Emefiele bows to pressure, says old naira notes legal tender

Exactly 10 days after the Supreme Court judgement mandating the use of old N,1000 and N500 notes as legal tender till December 31, 2023, the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, on Monday bowed to pressure and officially ordered commercial banks to comply with the court verdict.

He also announced that the old N200, N500 and N1,000 would remain legal tender till the end of the year.

Emefiele said the decision followed a meeting with Bankers  Committee that held on Sunday.

The development has put an end to the confusion over the legality of the old naira notes. The action is also expected to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians who have faced severe hardships over the scarcity of new naira notes amid the controversial ban on the old notes.

The Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin, disclosed the latest development in a statement titled ‘Old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes remain legal tender – CBN’

The statement read, “In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the rule of law principle that characterised the government of President Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria, as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023.

“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023. Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly.”

‘’The Supreme Court went to the extent of not only condemning the actions of the President as contemptuous of the court but also held that the actions constitute a threat to the rule of law and the existence of our democracy.

“We cannot under any guise or pretence accept or tolerate any appearance of autocracy or dictatorship. Our system of democratic governance has come to stay, it must not only be respected by all and sundry but must also be jealously guarded and protected.’’

The NBA president described the situation as the greatest test or challenge to the nation’s constitutional democracy, stressing that the executive could not afford to disregard the orders of the Supreme Court made for the benefit of the people that elected it to power.

“I therefore, on behalf of all Nigerians, call on the President to immediately direct compliance with the terms of the orders made by the Supreme Court in its judgment delivered on 3 March 2023,’’ he said.

Insisting on obedience to the orders of the court, Maikyau declared, “The Supreme Court has issued directives to the Federal Government for the benefit of the people and there is no option other than to comply. The President is under constitutional obligation to comply and enforce the decision of the Supreme Court.’’

Maikyau said the NBA remained committed to the promotion, entrenchment and respect for the rule of law, the integrity of the court and the independence of the judiciary, adding, “The NBA shall stand up against any action that seeks to undermine the rule of law, the integrity of the court and the independence of the judiciary.’’

He commended the judgment of the apex court, saying it not only spoke to the responsibility of the court to the people but also its bounden duty to protect the rule of law and the integrity of the court.

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‘’The Supreme Court has by this judgment proven to be the Supreme Court of the people of Nigeria,’’ the bar association further noted, stating that whenever public confidence in the other arms of government begins to wane, the legal profession, in particular the judiciary, must rise to the occasion by delivering justice with such courage and precision to provide succour to the people.

‘’This is what the Supreme Court has done so boldly and courageously in this instance,’’ Maikyau further noted.

Quoting section 287 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to buttress its stand, the NBA stated, “The decisions of the Supreme Court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by the court with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Supreme Court.” From the Punch

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