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Old Naira Notes Remain Legal Tender, Says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing of the case brought against the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the Naira redesign policy to Wednesday, February 22.

With the adjournment, Nigerians are left wondering whether or not the old N200, N500, and N1000 notes remain legal tender.

The court session held briefly on Wednesday provided clarity on the issue. 

Abdulhakeem Mustapha, counsel to Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara, asked the court to make an order directing the federal government not to implement a deadline on the old notes.

However, a seven-member panel of the apex court led by Justice John Okoro, said there was no need to issue a fresh order as “the interim order is pending the hearing on the motion on notice”.

In his reaction to the pronouncement, Adeola Adedipe, a lawyer, said the federal government is still bound by the supreme court ruling until the suit is heard and determined. 

“It simply means that the interim order subsists pending the determination of that motion having not been set aside,” he told TheCable.

“And if it is perceived that any organ of government that ought to comply with it is in breach, then the plaintiffs know what to do. Which is to commence enforcement proceedings. But the court won’t tell them that.”

Ruling on an ex parte application brought by three states: Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara, the supreme court, on February 8, restrained the CBN from giving effect to the deadline on the use of old notes.

The court issued an interim injunction “restraining the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on 10 February, the time frame with which the now older version of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denominations of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for interlocutory injunction”.

Abubakar Malami. attorney-general of the federation (AGF), the sole respondent in the suit, subsequently filed a preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

However, Malami said the federal government would obey the order in line with the rule of law.

Despite the assurance to comply with the order, some commercial banks, filling stations, and traders have stopped accepting the old naira notes from customers.

Meanwhile, some State Governments like Lagos, Ogun, Kano have warned against rejecting the old Naira notes as it still remains legal tender pending the outcome of the case at the Apex Court. 

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