In a landmark decision on Friday, the Supreme Court ordered that old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes remain in circulation until December 31, 2023. The apex court also nullified the Federal Government’s naira redesign policy, declaring it an affront to the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Emmanuel Agim read the lead judgment, stating that the court had jurisdiction to entertain the suit despite the preliminary objections raised by the defendants, including the Attorney General of the Federation, Bayelsa and Edo states. Citing Section 23(2)1 of the constitution, the court held that the dispute between the Federal Government and states must involve law or facts.
The Supreme Court further held that the policy has caused hardships on innocent Nigerians, and that President Muhammadu Buhari’s disobedience of the February 8 order is a sign of dictatorship. The court noted that the policy has led to some people engaging in trade by barter in a bid to survive, which is unacceptable in this modern age.
Sixteen states of the Federation instituted the suit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introdu up ction of the policy, with Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states slated as the first case on the cause list for a final verdict.
The 16 states accused the President of usurping the function of the CBN in the introduction and implementation of the policy, asking that the directive issued by Buhari be voided. The apex court granted their request and nullified the policy.
Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello, were present in court to witness the judgment. Also in court was Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle.
The decision by the Supreme Court has far-reaching implications, as it ensures that the old naira notes will continue to be in circulation for two more years. This will come as a relief to many Nigerians who still heavily rely on the old naira notes for transactions.