* Supreme Court Order on Naira Irrelevant, Non-binding, February 10 Deadline Stays – CBN
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to dismiss a suit filed by three state governments challenging the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In a preliminary objection filed by the AGF through his lawyers – Mahmud Magaji and Tijanni Gazali – the Federal Government argued that the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
In court filings dated February 8, 2023, the AGF contends that “the plaintiffs have equally not shown reasonable cause of action against the defendant.”
They are asking the court to strike out the suit for lack of jurisdiction.
Citing grounds in support of the objection, they argue that the State Governments’ suit challenges the Federal Government through its agency, the CBN, to withdraw old banknotes from the financial system and introduce new ones.
With reference to Section 251 of the Constitution, the defence lawyers argue that the suit falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in matters of monetary policy of an agency of the Federal Government.
“The claims or reliefs are not against the federation, but the Federal Government and its Agency, the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria is distinct from the Federation or the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Plaintiffs have no grievance whatsoever against the Federation of Nigeria.
“This suit has disclosed no dispute that invokes this (Supreme) Court’s original jurisdiction as constitutionally defined,” the AGF added.
Three state governments – Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara – had sued the Federal Government over the naira redesign policy of the CBN.
In the suit filed on February 3, the states urged the Supreme Court to compel President Muhammadu Buhari, the CBN and commercial banks to rescind the February 10 deadline for the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes as Nigeria’s legal tender.
Ruling on an ex parte request by the plaintiffs, the Supreme Court, ordered the Federal Government to halt the implementation of the currency redesign policy pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Supreme Court Order on Naira Irrelevant, Non-binding, February 10 Deadline Stays – CBN
CBN insisted that Supreme Court judgement is irrelevant, non-binding and a distraction, according to a CBN legal opinion
“Neither the CBN nor deposit money banks were parties to the suit filed by three state governments (Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara). The state governments simply took advantage of the fact that in matters purely between state and the FG, the Supreme Court can serve as the court of first and only instance. Joining the CBN in the matter would immediately rob the supreme court of jurisdiction,” the opinion said.
“Only the CBN is empowered by Law to determine what is termed legal tender, not the Supreme Court.
The Attorney General of the Federation cannot issue a binding order on the apex bank governor or board as the CBN act didn’t contemplate such and the interim order is simply an academic attempt at grandstanding,” the opinion added.