All pressure to get the Supreme Court to buckle under over the use of old Naira notes failed Wednesday when it refused to budge, adjourning to March 3, 2023 for ruling on the contentious case brought by several state governments.
The date is a clear week after the presidential election. Many believe that the governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who first brought the case to the Supreme Court, did it to help the chances of their presidential candidate, Senator Bola Tinubu.
But on Wednesday, the apex court told lawyers that the judiciary will not be anybody’s scapegoat over case.
When the Attorney General of Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo, sought to stop the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, from representing the Federal Government, Justice John Okoro told him, “you are not a stranger to this country…we don’t want a situation where the judiciary will be a scapegoat. We refuse to be the scapegoat”.
Onigbanjo had accused Malami of acting in contempt of initial court orders.
The apex court merged the applications of Edo, Bayelsa, Rivers and four other states with that of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara which initiated the first lawsuit against the Federal Government. It turned down the request of Abia State government to join the group because it was too late.
Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara states had filed a lawsuit against federal government over two weeks ago at the apex court, asking it to set aside the February 10, 2023 deadline to stop the use the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes.
The court granted the ex-parte order sought by the three states, praying that the old Naira notes remain in circulation.
At the resumed hearing last week, the apex court did not make any categorical statement on its earlier order, leading lawyers to give different interpretations.
Meanwhile, the CBN proceeded to implement the February 10 deadline, and President Muhammadu Buhari, after the order granted by the Supreme Court addressed the nation but only ordered that the apex bank re-circulate the old N200 note. He reiterated that the N500 and N1,000 notes were no longer legal tenders in Nigeria.