NAIRA SWAP CONTROVERSY: Governors Stoutly Oppose Buhari, Stick To Supreme Court’s Decision

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A number of state governors across the Federation and party lines have dug in deep into their positions on the side of the Supreme Court’s prevailing decision on the matter of the redesign of the N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes and controversies over the Naira swap processes thereof.

With Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara states taking the lead in instituting a joint suit before the apex court, some other states have since joined in the matter, seeking possible redress to their grievances.

In a related development, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive, via a national broadcast early Thursday morning, limiting the legal tender status of old notes to only N200, describing it as a total disregard of the Supreme Court on the matter.

He noted that the misguided action of the Attorney-General of the Federation to mislead the President into engaging in such public violation of the order of the highest court of the land shows how desperate the policy architects are to cause national chaos, by showing open contempt for the judiciary.

In a broadcast to the people of Kaduna State on Thursday evening, Governor El-Rufai expressed concern that the peaceful coexistence as a state, and a nation, is being placed under deliberate danger using the intentional combination of fuel and cash supply disruptions. He accused those in the corridors of power of using the instrumentality of the Federal Government and the President as convenient covers to truncate the nation’s democracy because they have personally lost out.

“It is also quite revealing that the Federal Government and its agencies not only disobeyed the February 8th ruling by continuing to say the February 10th deadline stands,” he said.

“It is shocking to see the blatant violation of the subsisting and continuing order of the Supreme Court that all the old and new notes should continue to be legal tender until it gives judgment in the case filed by the Kaduna State Government along with several others.”

According to him, those behind the naira redesign policy are massively deploying resources and tools to defeat the political party that gave them the platform to serve the country just because they could not impose the candidates of their choice.

“The decision by the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to recognise only N200 as legal tender till April 10th which President Muhammadu Buhari announced on Thursday morning was offered to the state governments as part of proposals for an out-of-court settlement three days ago.

“The Federal Government asserted that this was offered because all the ‘old’ N1,000 and N500 notes had been destroyed. We rejected the offer and proved to the officials that not a single higher denomination note had been destroyed,” the governor added.

“We also believe that circulating N200 only to be inadequate in alleviating the suffering that we see every day. We insisted that all the components of the Supreme Court order should be complied with.”

El-Rufai, however, appealed to residents of the state to remain calm and peaceful, and support the lawful means being utilised to solve the problems.

He assured them that they will not lose their money in old notes.

“Let no artificial and illegal deadline frighten you. Whether you live in towns, villages, or in our isolated rural communities, do not feel stampeded to deposit your old notes in the banks. Hold on to them,” El-Rufai said.

“Continue to use them as legal tender as ordered by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. No deadline can render them worthless, ever. The law is on your side. The Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007, and the Bills of Exchange Act oblige the CBN to recognise your old notes and give you value in new notes whenever you bring them to the CBN, even in the next 100 years.

“Therefore, as your governor, I wish to assure you that the Kaduna State Government, in collaboration with elected legislators, traditional institutions, elected local government councils, markets, and traders associations will help you collect, record, document, collate and deliver all your old notes to the Kaduna branch of the Central Bank on your behalf into the new ones immediately after the elections.

“We will also ensure the delivery of your new notes to your various locations without any hardship or expense on your part. We shall save you any panic and the stress of a long journey from your community to the CBN office in our state capital, from March until December 2023 if need be.

“For the avoidance of doubt, all the old and new notes shall remain in use as legal tender in Kaduna State until the Supreme Court of Nigeria decides otherwise. I, therefore, appeal to all residents of Kaduna State to continue to use the old and new notes side by side without any fear. The Kaduna State Government and its agencies shall seal any facility that refuses to accept the old notes as legal tender and prosecute the owners. “

Similarly, the Jigawa State Government has vowed to enforce the Supreme Court order restraining the Federal Government from banning the old Naira notes as legal tender.

This was contained in a public notice made available to journalists by the Jigawa State Commissioner for Special Duties Auwal Sankara.

According to the public notice, commercial banks, corporate organisations, ministries, agencies, and traders must accept the old notes or face sanctions from the state government.

“It has come to its notice some individuals and corporate bodies are rejecting the now-old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes. The Jigawa State Government is concerned about the conduct of such individuals,” it read.

The statement added: “Jigawa State Government respects the rights of its people and those rejecting the now-old currencies are enjoined to desist from disobeying the law and causing hardships to the people of Jigawa State.

“Jigawa State Government will not hesitate to use section 287(1) of the Constitution (as amended) and other extant laws to enforce the order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”

The Supreme Court of Nigeria earlier issued an order “restraining the Federal Government of Nigeria, either by itself or acting through the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN and/or commercial banks, ministries, parastatals, organizations or through any person or persons (natural and artificial) howsoever, from suspending or determining or ending on the 10th of February, 2023 the time frame within which the now older versions of the 200, 500 and 1000 denominations of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of the notice”.

Earlier, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had warned those rejecting old naira notes to desist or face prosecution.

He said that the rejection of old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes is contrary to the position of the Supreme Court.

The Governor made this known in a statement signed by the Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, on Wednesday.

Sanwo-Olu’s warning followed the Supreme Court adjournment of the case on the Naira swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) till February 22 for hearing of the consolidated suits by 10 states.

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