Nigeria: As Scarcity of Naira Bites Harder - Buhari Disowns Emefiele, Malami Over Defiance of Supreme Court

14 March 2023

President Muhammadu Buhari has explained that he never instructed the attorney general of the federation and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor to disobey any court orders involving the government and other parties.

The presidency, which made this clarification, was responding to some public concerns that it did not react to the Supreme Court judgement on the issue of the old N500 and N1,000 currency notes.

It also said it was wrong for certain persons to insinuate that the president lacks compassion for the suffering masses, asserting that his government was notable for its pro-poor programmes.

According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, since the president was sworn into office in 2015, he has never directed anybody to defy court orders, in the strong belief that the country cannot practise democracy without the rule of law and that the commitment of his administration to this principle has not changed.

LEADERSHIP recalls that some state governors had instituted a legal action against the federal government following that Naira redesign policy which set February 10 deadline for the old currency notes to cease to be legal tender, which they won, with the Supreme Court extending the use of the old notes to December 31, this year.

Following the ongoing intense debate about compliance of Supreme Court ruling concerning the legality of the old currency notes, the Presidency declared that President Buhari had not knowingly done anything to obstruct the administration of justice.

Shehu said, "The president is not a micromanager and will not, therefore, stop the attorney general and the CBN governor from performing the details of their duties in accordance with the law. In any case, it is debatable at this time if there is proof of wilful denial by the two of them on the orders of the apex court.

"The directive of the president, following the meeting of the Council of State, was that the Bank must make available for circulation all the money that is needed, and nothing has happened to change the position."

According to Shehu, 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," he said.

The presidential spokesman further stated that the negative campaign and personalised attacks against the president by the opposition and all manner of commentators were 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, Shehu said it is a known fact that many of the country's citizens, who bear the brunt of the suffering, 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. President Buhari has also 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."

Old Naira Notes Remain Legal Tender - CBN Governor

After weeks of hibernation and denial, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed commercial banks and every concerned person(s) in the country to accept old N200, N500 and N1000 notes as legal tender.

In a statement that was issued by its acting director in charge of corporate communications, Dr Isa AbdulMumin, the central bank said the new directive was in compliance with a Supreme Court judgement that had extended the use of the old currency notes till December 31, 2023.

"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," AbdulMumin said in the statement.

The decision was taken after the CBN met with the Bankers' Committee and 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 read in part.

Labour Gives FG 7-day Ultimatum To End Scarcity

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has issued a seven-day deadline to the federal government to end the current naira and fuel scarcity.

The ultimatum was given yesterday in Abuja at the inaugural meeting of the congress's Central Working Committee.

NLC national president, Comrade Joe Ajaero, who gave the ultimatum, directed workers to observe sit at home at the end of the ultimatum on Wednesday next week should the federal government fail to comply.

He said, "The congress wishes to inform the federal government that we will no longer keep quiet on this issue of perennial fuel scarcity and arbitrary increase of petroleum products prices. The issue of cash crunch, the NLC is giving the federal government of Nigeria, the agencies of government, including the Central Bank of Nigeria and top banking institutions, seven working days to address the issue of the cash crunch.

"If they fail to do this at the expiration of the seven days, the congress is directing all workers in the country to stay at home because it has become very difficult to even assess one naira to enter vehicles to your workplace; it is even difficult to buy products, especially from traders who don't have bank accounts. This is the situation we have found ourselves.

"The federal government came out with the policy that even the old currency are still valid, what we have discovered is that even when the banks give you those old currencies, the traders are not accepting it, and even when you take it to the same banks, the banks are not accepting it either. We are being frustrated to a level that we can no longer keep quiet."

On the political situation in the country, Ajaero urged the courts to uphold justice in the issues tabled before it.

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