Ten state governments in Nigeria have asked the Supreme Court to set aside the pronouncement of President Muhammadu Buhari banning the old N500 and N1,000 currency notes.
The president had in a national broadcast last Thursday, directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days.
According to the president, the directive was in response to the hardship millions of Nigerians are encountering in accessing their funds from commercial banks across the country since the demonetisation policy commenced.
Buhari in the broadcast also maintained that in line with the policy that gave a February 10 deadline for the cessation of the affected denominations, the old N500 and N1,000 banknotes are no longer legal tender in Nigeria.
Miffed by the announcement of the president, the aggrieved states on Friday, took a fresh application marked: SC/CV/162/2023, to challenge the directive.
Plaintiffs in the motion filed by their counsel, Mr. A.J. Owonikoko, SAN, described the action of the president as “an unconstitutional overreach and usurpation of the judicial power” and as such should be set aside.
The plaintiffs in the suit are the Attorneys General and commissioners for Justice of Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara, Ondo, Ekiti, Katsina, Ogun, Cross River, Sokoto, and Lagos states while the respondent are the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), as well as the Attorneys General and Commissioners for Justice of Bayelsa and Edo states.
The plaintiffs, in a 12-ground of application, argued that Buhari’s directive extending the validity of old N200 notes for 60 days and his ban on old N500 and N1,000 notes are an “unconstitutional overreach and usurpation of the judicial power” of the Supreme Court being that the case is already before the court.
The counsel for the applicants cited Section 232(1), Section 6(6)(b) and Section 287(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which includes the protection of the Supreme Court’s dignity and which ensure compliance with its orders by all persons and authorities.
The applicants claimed that the action of the president has put the citizens in a dilemma as to which directives is to be obeyed because the interim order of the Supreme Court halting the federal government’s ban from taking effect from February 10, is still substituting haven not been vacated by the apex court.
They argued that the Supreme Court can only restore the faith of Nigerians in the judiciary by granting this application for setting aside the directive of President Buhari made on Thursday via a national broadcast.
Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and many top stalwarts of the ruling APC have faulted the president’s directive.
Alex Enumah in Abuja