The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, has explained that the Federal Government, and by extension, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), will obey the Supreme Court order, temporarily halting Friday’s deadline for swap of old notes for new notes.
However, banks and Point of Sales (PoS) operators in Abuja remained short of cash, and in many cases, were completely out of cash over the counter and at Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs).
Frustration led to fights as witnessed at a bank in Area 8 of Garki District. Queues remained at some ATMs, even the machines were not dispensing cash.
Recall that as part of its cashless policy, redesigned the Naira, giving Nigerians until 31st January, 2023 to deposit the old notes in their banks. Painfully, it has been difficult for many to get the redesigned and new notes, either from banks or PoS operators. Even the extra 10 days given by the CBN, which terminated Friday, did not help matters.
Following the reprieve, for at five days, given by a Supreme Court order, hopes were raised, but emerging reports show that anger continues to grow over the scarcity of cash.
Malami said in an Arise Television interview: “The order was granted by the Supreme Court and the order was to lapse on Wednesday which is the day of the hearing. With that position in mind, we have taken steps to file an objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.
“Jurisdiction on the grounds that when you talk of monetary policy regardless of the characters they take, the Central Bank is an indispensable and a necessary party for that matter.
“What we have at hand is a situation where the Central Bank is not joined as a party and if the Central Bank as an institution is not joined as a party the position of the law is clear that the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court cannot be properly invoked.
“So we have given considerations to diverse issues inclusive of the issue of jurisdiction and come Wednesday we will argue the case from that perspective amongst others.
“I think what we are talking about is not whether the ruling is binding or not binding, we are talking about what we intend to do. There is no doubt the fact that the ruling of the Supreme Court regardless of the prevalent circumstances is binding and then within the context of the Rule of Law, you can equally take steps that are available to you within the context of the spirit and circumstances of the Rule of Law and what we are doing, in essence, is compliance with the Rule of Law both in terms of obedient to the ruling and in terms of challenging the ruling by way of putting our own side of the story, putting across our case, challenging jurisdiction.
“So the issue of obedience to the ruling of the Supreme Court is out of it we are wholeheartedly in agreement that naturally we are bound by it and will comply accordingly but within the context of compliance we shall challenge the ruling by way of filing an application seeking for it to be set aside, it is all about the rule of Law.
“The Rule of Law provides that there has to be obedience to the judgment and orders of the Supreme Court, the Rule of Law provides that when you are not happy with a ruling you can file an application for setting aside and in compliance with the rights and privileges vested in us as a government we are equally looking at challenging the order and seeking for it to be set aside.”