CBN finally bows to pressure, says old naira notes legal tender
Nearly two weeks after the Supreme Court judgment mandating that the old N,1000 and N500 notes remain legal tender till December 31, 2023, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday bowed to pressure and officially ordered commercial banks to comply with the court verdict.
The apex bank also announced that the old N200, N500 and N1,000 would remain legal tender till the end of the year.
The CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said the decision followed a meeting with the Bankers’ Committee that held on Sunday.
The development has put an end to the confusion over the legality of the old naira notes. The action is also expected to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians who have faced severe hardships over the scarcity of new naira notes amid the controversial ban on the old notes.
The acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin, disclosed the latest development in a statement titled, ‘Old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes remain legal tender – CBN’.
The statement read, “In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the rule of law principle that characterised the government of President Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria, as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023.
“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023. Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly.”
Perhaps, the CBN change of mind concerning directive to bank to accept old Naira to came as result of the press statement from the Presidency titled: “President Buhari never told AG and CBN Gov to defy Supreme Court order”.
The statement read: The Presidency wishes to react to some public concerns that President Muhammadu Buhari did not react to the Supreme Court judgment on the issue of the N500 and N1,000 old currency notes, and states here plainly and clearly that at no time did he instruct the Attorney General and the CBN Governor to disobey any court orders involving the government and other parties.
Since the President was sworn into office in 2015, he has never directed anybody to defy court orders, in the strong belief that we can’t practise democracy without the rule of law and the commitment of his administration to this principle has not changed.
Following the ongoing intense debate about the compliance concerning the legality of the old currency notes, the Presidency therefore wishes to state clearly that President Buhari has not done anything knowingly and deliberately to interfere with or obstruct the administration of justice.
The President is not a micromanager and will not, therefore, stop the Attorney General and the CBN Governor from performing the details of their duties in accordance with the law. In any case. it is debatable at this time if there is proof of willful denial by the two of them on the orders of the apex court.
The directive of the President, following the meeting of the Council of State. is that the Bank must make available for circulation all the money that is needed and nothing has happened to change the position.
It is an established fact that the President is an absolute respecter of judicial process and the authority of the courts. He has done nothing in the last eight or so years to act in any way to obstruct the administration of justice, cause lack of confidence in the administration of justice, or otherwise interfere or corrupt the courts and there is no reason whatsoever that he should do so now when he is getting ready to leave office.
The negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators is unfair and unjust, as no court order at any level has been issued or directed at him.
As for the cashless system the CBN is determined to put in place, it is a known fact that many of the country’s citizens who bear the brunt of the sufferings, surprisingly support the policy as they believe that the action would cut corruption, fight terrorism, build an environment of honesty and reinforce the incorruptible leadership of the President.
It is therefore wide off the mark to blame the President for the current controversy over the cash scarcity, despite the Supreme Court judgment. The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President.
President Buhari has also rejected the impression that he lacks compassion, saying that “no government in our recent history has introduced policies to help economically marginalised and vulnerable groups like the present administration.”