The Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday okayed the take-off of the Central Bank of Nigeria Digital Currency (CBDC) also known as the eNaira.
This emerged just as a civil society group, Partnership for Peace and Community Development (PPCD), yesterday threw its weight behind current efforts by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to “eliminate shady deals, sharp practices and corruption” which had been the hallmark of the country’s foreign exchange (FX) system.
The Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Taiwo Obayomi Taiwo, while ruling on the ENaira Payment Solutions Limited v. Central Bank of Nigeria (FHC/ABJ/CS/113/2021) matter in which the plaintiff had urged the court to stop the proposed launch of the digital currency over an alleged trademark infringement, ordered that the unveiling should proceed in the national interest and economic advancement.
The CBN’s Principal Counsel, D. D. Dodo (SAN) who led the team for the defendant had urged the court to strike out the Plaintiff’s Motion Exparte seeking to restrain the launch of the Defendant’s digital currency in view of its significance to the nation’s economic advancement.
Although the court was not disposed to striking out the plaintiff’s Motion Exparte but was of the view that the launch of the digital currency should go ahead in the nation’s interest and the economic advancement of the country, especially given that the company could be adequately compensated in damages.
The matter was however adjourned to October 11, 2021 for further hearing.
The plaintiff had instituted a suit before the court against the apex bank over the adoption of the name “eNaira” after the CBN announced that it would launch the pilot scheme of its digital currency this month, to also commemorate the country’s 61st independent celebration.
The CBN had in August stated that the proposed eNaira will be treated as a national critical infrastructure to protect it from operational and cybersecurity risks.
The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said the digital currency would bring about increased cross-border trade, accelerate financial inclusion, cheaper and faster remittance inflows.
He also said the digital money would lead to easier targeted social interventions, as well as improvements in monetary policy effectiveness, payment systems efficiency, and tax collection.
Emefiele said: “Digital currency is what central banks all over the world are providing as alternative to the current money arrangement.”
Providing further clarification on the eNaira project, Emefiele said: “You have some naira in your account and you chose to convert part of your naira into a digital wallet by way of a digital currency. We will support that.
“If for instance, you have N10 million in your account. Of course, when this starts, the CBN will move some of the balances of banks with CBN to those banks in digital currency.
So, you go to your bank, you have N10 million and you sat you want to N2 million out of your N10 million into a digital currency.
“They’ll debit your account and move it to your wallet of N2 million digital currency which you can spend across countries.”
He said: “So we think that this is a noble idea and we are not the first…many other central banks are at advanced stages if revealing their own digital currency.
“And our own digital currency which is tagged eNaira will certainly come into operation by the special grace of God by October and we are working very hard for this.”
The CBN added, “We believe that transactions will be cheaper and more efficient as there’ll be less…to complete.
On digital economy, the Nigerian economy just like the rest of the world is going digital and cash cannot play in that space.
“Therefore, eNaira which will represent the digital equivalent of cash will be used as the fiat currency to effect transactions.
“And in terms of financial inclusion we believe that with over 30 per cent of bankable adults still outside the financial system, the ability to have offline payment through our eNaira initiative will bring most of them into the formal financial sector.”
According to him,” The use of cash is declining everywhere in the world just as in Nigeria and with the advent of digital commerce which is booming in the country, more and more people are adopting the use of electronic money to facilitate digital commerce.
“So our eNaira is a digital representation of cash which means as a fiat currency, it is a fiat currency that will be just as acceptable as the physical or analogue naira. We recognise the need for wide stakeholder engagement and education to be able to create awareness for the use of eNaira as alternative to cash to further drive towards a cashless society.”
Meanwhile, speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, the convener of PPCD, Mr. Muhammad Abbah Sada, said the group was out to address some pressing issues raised by some faceless individuals and groups who are bent on maligning, distracting and discrediting the hard earned reputation of the CBN governor.
Sada addressed journalists alongside the leadership of the Arewa Youth Council (AYC), Mallam Aliyu Saminu; Northern Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Yusuf Yahuza; Northern Women Emancipation, Hon. Sule Zainab; Arewa Youth Parliament, Usman Baba Kankia and Arewa Youth Federation, Adamu Kabir Matazu.
The group however said as a CSO mindful of its responsibilities to the public, “We cannot fold our arms and watch few unscrupulous individuals hold the rest of the country to ransom, which has succeeded in alienating the vast majority of our compatriots from benefitting from our God given potentials as a country.
“That is why we are here to lend our support to the CBN policies and the leadership dexterity of Godwin Emefiele.”
The group said it condemned in totality the attempt to blackmail or intimidate the CBN governor into resigning his position
It said the CBN governor had proved his competence in managing the central bank noting that he performed credibly in his first term, pulling the country out of recession in record time, a rare feat which earned him a reappointment by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Sada said: Another important point to note is the fact that the new policies of the CBN had breasted the tape of challenges associated with the old opaque policies and this has caused a stir from the enemies of Nigeria go don’t want to see change and progress because of their perfidious desire and self-centered material aggrandisement.”
The group noted that the great feat achieved under Emefiele’s leadership was in spite of the economic recession caused by the global pandemic.
“The CBN governor has remained true to course by sanitizing the apex bank and addressing commercial banks’ issues in order to protect the interest of Nigerians,” Sada said, warning groups and politicians who specialise in blackmail to extort money from agencies and parastatals of government by appealing to the emotions of Nigerians to desist from their ungodly practices.
Furthermore, Sada called on all patriots to support the CBN governor in the crusade of freeing Nigerians from shackles of economic saboteurs and unpatriotic Nigerians who are out to drag the country backwards.
He said the group was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Emefiele’s policies and programmes towards improving the economy was a step in the right direction.
“We make bold to state that you deserved commendation not condemnation by all patriots and as such we will resist and confront where necessary all enemies of peace and security across the entire length and breadth of the country.”
James Emejo and Sonia Mayomi in Abuja