The Vice-Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Datti Baba-Ahmed on Friday described as “treasonable” the comments of Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State on the Naira redesign policy following the nationwide broadcast of President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue.
El-Rufai in a state broadcast on Thursday faulted the President for his directive to re-introduce just the old N200 banknote as part of measures to curb the cash crunch in the country.
On the same Friday, a fresh round of protests erupted in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Rivers states, triggered by the inability of residents to access the new notes, the hardship caused by the Naira redesign policy, and President Buhari’s broadcast, which contrary to expectations, approved the return of only old N200 notes while the old N500 and N1000 notes were invalidated.
El-Rufai, who said during his broadcast that the old N1,000 and N500 were still legal tender in his state, stated further that the aim of the Naira redesign was to scuttle the general elections in order to allow an interim government led by a retired army general.
The big question on the lips of analysts last night regarding the el-rufai broadcast is: Can a sitting governor instigate a coup and claim immunity?
However, speaking during a press conference in Abuja on Friday, the LP Vice-Presidential candidate said the governor’s comment amounted to treason and wondered why the presidency was silent.
He argued that there is only one authority in Nigeria which is the president and wondered how a governor could counter the directive of the president.
“Anybody who commits this kind of indiscipline under our leadership would bear the full weight of the law. We have been more than bewildered at the failures we have witnessed in the past few days. However, it is more of an act of treason; so, to say, it is an act of treason. If an elected governor of a constituent part of a sovereign country will give direct instructions to the contrary of what is the exclusive preserve of the federal government.
“Why as a Commander-in-Chief you give a clean executive constitutional order and a state governor goes out to say that you should continue to exchange those currencies? This is to say that there are two authorities in a country,” Baba-Ahmed said.
El-rufai said the development was meant to ensure that the presidential candidate of the ruling APC, Bola Tinubu, and other candidates of the party lose.
He claimed that those who lost out in the party’s primaries were behind the plot.
He said, “It is important for the people of Kaduna State, and indeed Nigeria, to know that contrary to the public pronouncements and apparent good intentions, this policy was conceived and sold to the President by officials who completely lost out in the gubernatorial and presidential primaries of the APC in June 2022.
“Once Asiwaju Bola Tinubu emerged as the candidate in June 2022, and subsequently did not pick one of them as his running mate, this currency redesign policy was conceived to ensure that the APC presidential candidate is deprived of what they alleged is a humongous war chest.
“They also sought to achieve any one or more of the following objectives: create a nationwide shortage of cash so that citizens are incited to vote against APC candidates across the board resulting in massive losses for the party in all the elections; ensure that the cash crunch is so serious, along with the contrived and enduring fuel shortage existing since September 2022, that the 2023 elections do not hold at all, leading to an Interim National Government to be led by a retired Army General; sustain the climate of shortage of fuel, food and other necessities, leading to mass protests, violence and breakdown of law and order that would provide a fertile foundation for a military take-over.”
Meeting with APC Governors
The National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdulahi Adamu will on Sunday hold an emergency meeting with the governors of the party.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Felix Morka in a statement issued on Friday said the meeting would be held at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja.
However, the meeting may not be unconnected with the opposition of the APC governors to the Naira redesign policy of President Buhari.
Fresh Protest in Lagos, Rivers, Ogun, Oyo
A fresh round of protests erupted on Friday morning in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Rivers states, triggered by the inability of residents to access the new notes, the hardship caused by the Naira redesign policy, and President Buhari’s Thursday morning’s broadcast, which contrary to expectations, approved the return of only old N200 notes while the old N500 and N1000 notes were invalidated.
The CBN had in October 2022 announced the redesign of N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, and asked Nigerians to deposit their old notes before January 31, 2023 when they would cease to be legal tender. The deadline was shifted to February 10 following difficulties obtaining the new notes.
But the challenges of getting the new notes persist, leading to protests across Nigeria.
On Friday in Lagos, protests broke out very early on the Lagos-Ikorodu Road, Agege, Iyana-Ipaja, Igando, where roads were blocked and vehicles damaged. In Mile 12, Ketu and Ojota areas, vandals took to the road, attacking commuters and creating chaos.
In Epe, Lagos East, hoodlums vandalised some banks during the protest.
In a press statement Friday, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu called for calm, saying there was no need for violence.
The governor assured that he was on top of the matter to ensure that the hardship caused by the naira redesign policy of the CBN did not persist.
The statement signed by Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotosho, read, “Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu believes there is no need for violence as the Supreme Court is looking into this controversial matter and will make its position known on February 22.
“Lagos State has since joined the legal dispute – all in the interest of our people – in the belief that the highest court in the land has the capacity to adjudicate on the matter. The fuel situation is easing following some steps taken by the government.”
Vehicular movement on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway came to a halt for several hours on Friday as protesters took over several sections of the road.
The gridlock spread from the Mowe area of Ogun State inwards the Long Bridge area of Arepo. Many vehicles had to turn back in an attempt to escape the chaos ahead. The protesters were seen chanting, “Old naira notes”
The protest spread further to the Magboro axis of the highway with travellers and road users turning around to the Lagos end of the road.
The Lagos State Rapid Response Squad eventually arrived in the Ibafo area of Ogun State to clear the protesters off the road.
Protesters took over the streets of Ibadan in Oyo State for several hours on Friday over the scarcity of the new Naira notes and the ban of the old N500 and N1000 notes by the CBN.
The protest began in Iwo Road where gunshots were heard and escalated to other areas of Ibadan.
People were seen running for their lives at the sound of gunshots, as vehicular movement in parts of the state were affected.
Banks Vandalised in Port Harcourt
The protests took a dangerous turn in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Friday as hoodlums vandalised two commercial banks.
The affected banks are First Bank in Churchill and Keystone Bank along Aggrey Road.
The First City Monument Bank at Rumuokoro in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State was earlier destroyed by angry members of the public on Thursday.
First Bank at Churchill was the most affected, as the Automated Teller Machines were destroyed and stones were thrown into the premises, destroying several facilities.
Not satisfied with the damage, the hoodlums pulled down the gate of the bank, and forced their way into the banking hall as bank staff ran for their lives.
The hoodlums then looted computer monitors, desktops, water dispensers and other items inside the bank, but their hope of finding cash was unsuccessful.
At the Keystone Bank along Aggrey Road, only the two ATMs were destroyed.
Following the rampage and destruction, markets, shops, boutiques and business premises hurriedly closed for the day, while residents ran into their houses and looked out from their windows.
Three police patrol vans were stationed in front of First Bank to avoid further attacks, as it was learnt that the hoodlums had finalised arrangements to set fire to the bank.
The policemen shot sporadically into the air and chased the hoodlums into the Abuja, Bishop Johnson and Ibadan Waterfronts.
Deji Elumoye, Adedayo Akinwale and Juliet Akoje in Abuja James Sowole in Abeokuta, Segun James in Lagos, Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt