Home Economy Supreme Court orders old N200, N500, N1,000 notes to remain legal tender

Supreme Court orders old N200, N500, N1,000 notes to remain legal tender

by Business News Report

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Federal Government to allow the old Naira notes to continue as legal tender until Dec. 31, 2023. Justice Emmanuel Agim, who read the lead judgment, held that the preliminary objections by the Attorney General of the Federation, Bayelsa and Edo are dismissed as the court has the jurisdiction to entertain the suit. 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 Apex Court declared the federal government’s economic Policy of Cashless and Naira Re-designing as an affront to the 1999 Constitution. Following the Supreme court ruled that the old N200, N500 and N1, 000 notes should remain legal tenders until December 31, 2023, some Point of Sale, PoS operators yesterday reduced cash withdrawal charges by as much as 90 percent even as they commenced disbursement to the public.

Meanwhile, financial sector stakeholders have commended the judgement of the Supreme Court describing it is as huge relief for the populace. The stakeholders include Founder and former Chairman, Stanbic IBTC, Mr. Atedo Peterside, MD/CEO, RTC Consult Limited, Mr. Opeyemi Agbaje, President, Association of Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, BCAN, Dr. Uju Ogubunka; President, Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, AMMBAN, Mr Olojo Victo.  However, the Central Bank is now waiting for legal advice as it affects the entire Naira redesign policy. A senior officialsaid that the CBN would make its position on the matter known but that it was awaiting legal advice, ostensibly, from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

A PoS agent said she has been accepting the old Naira notes as deposit since it ceased being legal tender and now she has enough cash for her business. I now charge N300 for N10,000. Before the Supreme court judgment, the charge was N2,000 for N10,000 because getting the new notes and old N200 notes was difficult and I paid heavily to get them. “With the Supreme court judgment, our business will revive as many of my colleagues have closed down some of their outlets.” Another PoS agent said:” The Supreme Court judgment is a relief to us PoS operators  I now charge N500 per N10,000 and have been accepting the old N500 and N1,000 notes because some traders have been depositing their old notes since court pronouncement for fear that it may be reversed but they have helped my business with the provision of cash which is now legal tender.”

Some market women and commercial transport levy collectors (Agberos) were also seen collecting the old naira notes from bus drivers who were unable to spend the old notes before it ceased being legal tender on February 10, 2023. A bus driver enroute Agbara to CMS, Mr Sunday Okoyomo, said: “I have N10,000 of the old notes in the denominations of N500 and N1,000.  “Due to my busy schedule, I have been unable to deposit it in the bank. So I took N3,000 out of it hoping that the Supreme court judgment will favour me and other Nigerians who still had the old money with them. “And so it was. On hearing the reversal of the CBN policy by the Supreme court, I was very happy. “I just gave it to an Agberos on the way now and he accepted it. “This judgment will heal the wounds of many.”

Commenting on the development, the President, Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, AMMBAN, Mr Olojo Victor, said “yes it is a good omen. We believe that the Supreme Court has indeed proven to be the last hope for the common man. The policy wasn’t well thought out even though the intention was good but it further impoverished Nigerians. It made them jobless. It made life difficult and unbearable. I hope that the CBN will obey the Supreme Court order to the latter so that life can resume back to normal for Nigerians again. As an association, it is a welcomed development and we thank the Supreme court for not letting the hope of the common man down. We thank the Supreme Court for upholding justice and we hope that the CBN in future engagement will put in place proper mechanisms in carrying out its policies that affect Nigerians like this.” On his part, the President, Association of Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, BCAN, Dr. Uju Ogubunka welcomed the development saying: “We didn’t expect less. It is therefore a welcome development.”

The court held that President Muhammadu Buhari breached the Constitution of the Federation in the ways and manners he issued directives for the re-designing of the Naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN. Justice Agim held that the President acted Ulta vires by his glaring failure to consult with the National Council of States, Federal Executive Council FEC and the National Economic Council NEC before directing the Central Bank of Nigeria to unlawfully introduce new Naira notes. He held that the unconstitutional use of powers by Buhari on Naira Re-designing has breached the fundermental rights of the Nigerian citizens in various ways. The apex court said such use of powers by President Buhari is not permitted under democracy and in a plural society like the Nigerian nation.

Among others, the court held that unlawful use of executive powers by the President inflicted unprecedented economic hardship on the citizens by denying them ownership of their monies and access to the money. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara had filed the suit but Rivers, Kano, Niger, Jigawa, Nasarawa, Ondo, Ekiti, Katsina, Ogun, Cross River, Lagos, and Sokoto states were among the first batch to be joined as co-plaintiffs, while Edo and Bayelsa states joined the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) as defendants. Specifically, the states are seeking to restrain the federal government from giving effect to the deadline on the use of old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes. On Feb. 8, the supreme court restrained the CBN from giving effect to the deadline following an ex parte application brought by the three states. 

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