Supreme Court Approves Indefinite Use of Old, New Naira Notes

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that both the old and the redesigned naira notes remain valid legal tenders in the country beyond December 31.

A seven-member panel of the court led by Justice Inyang Okoro, said the notes should remain in circulation, pending when the Federal Government, after due consultation with relevant stakeholders, takes a decision on the matter.

The court took the decision after entertaining an application that was moved on behalf of the Federal Government by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi.

Following the end of the last administration, the President Bola Tinubu-led government re-applied to the Supreme Court for an indefinite extension of its December 31 deadline.

The ruling was on a motion by the FG, which was moved on Wednesday by Fagbemi, accompanied by the Acting Director, Civil Appeals, Federal Ministry of Justice, Tijani Gazali (SAN).

The court, in the ruling, reviewed its earlier order that the old notes should cease be legal tender by the last day of December 2023, in its place, issued an order “that the old versions of 200, 500, 1000 naira notes, shall continue to be legal tenders alongside the new or designed versions until the government decides to bring the circulation of the old versions to an end after its consultation with critical stakeholders and after putting all required structures in place.”

Other panel members are Justices Uwani Aba-Aji, Helen Ogunwumiju, Ibrahim Saulawa, Adamu Jauro,  Tijani Abubakar and Emmanuel Agim.

The Supreme Court had on March 3, invalidated the ban on the use of the old N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes as valid legal tenders by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration. The court held that the old naira notes should be used alongside the redesigned currencies until the end of the year.

Justice Agim, who delivered the lead judgmen, slammed the FG for unilaterally introducing the policy without consulting the Council of States, the Federal Executive Council, the National Security Council, the National Economic Council, Civil Society Organisations. and other relevant stakeholders. Nigeria Eurobond Slumps after CBN Resumes OMO Auction

It held that the FG failed to give valid notice to all the federating units before it decided to withdraw the old banknotes from circulation and introduce new ones.

The Supreme Court maintained that evidence before it established that a purported notice on the monetary policy was through “mere press remarks” by governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.

It held that such remarks did not qualify as “reasonable notice” to the states as envisaged under section 20(3) of the CBN Act. the court invalidated the directive President Buhari gave in the broadcast he made on February 16, which allowed only the old N200 note to remain legal tender until April 10.

While accusing President Buhari of disobeying the interim order it made on February 8, which directed that the old banknotes should remain in use till the determination of the case before it, the apex court stressed that the President, by going ahead to ban the old banknotes, acted in a way that was inimical to democratic governance. According to the court, having disobeyed its order, FG lost its right to be granted an audience before it.