A professor of law, Joshua Alobo, on Thursday, approached a Federal High Court in Abuja with a suit seeking an order restraining the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from making January 31 as the terminal date for old naira notes.
The plaintiff, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/114/2023, equally asked the court to issue a mandatory order, “extending the duration where the old notes cease to become legal tender to period of three weeks when the redesign notes will be sufficiently dispensed by the commercial banks”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Defendants in the matter are the CBN, its Governor, Godwin Emefiele and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN).
In a 21-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one, Musa Damudi, the Plaintiff, told the court that the CBN Governor had on October 26, 2022, announced that the apex bank would introduce new series of redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes into the financial system.
He admitted that though CBN’s decision is geared towards reducing inflation and entrenching cashless society so as to curb money laundering and corruption, however, majority of Nigerians, especially the less privileged one, are yet to have access to the new naira notes that were unveiled on November 23, 2022 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While accusing the commercial banks of failing to make the new naira notes available to their customers, the Plaintiff, told the court that as aft January 25, he was still handed the old notes on the counter and through the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM)
He decried that already, major shopping malls within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, have announced the rejection of old notes, with the ATM limiting daily withdrawal to N20, 000.00.
The plaintiff argued that the terminal date of January 31 for usage of the old notes “is discriminatory against the rural dwellers, poor and less privileged persons in the society, as politically exposed persons are paid with the redesigned notes.
“That cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria is innovative and welcome development but the rural dwellers that constitute bulk of the population do not have access to internet and banking facilities.
“The legal tussle for the arrest of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria by the Department of State Security, DSS, at the Federal High Court resulted in uncertainty as to the full implementation of the redesigned Naira notes.
“That the legal action at the FCT, High Court for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the Governor of CBN also necessitated anxiety in the country on the implementation of the policy.
“That the Governor of CBN arrived Nigeria on January 13, 2023 and visited the President at the Aso Rock. The reception was well publicized in both electronic and print media
“That the current daily limit of transaction to N20, 000 is against the Central Bank daily limit of N100, 000.
“That the Applicant was shocked when he was paid with mint of the old note with serial No 435641, 435642, 43643, 435636, 435638, 435639. It is hereby marked Exhibit ‘A’ and ‘B”, the deponent further averred.
More so, the plaintiff, in a written address he attached in support of the suit, maintained that the matter was germane to the economic stability and prosperity of less privileged persons in the country who, he argued may not have the necessary connection to commercial banks, “unlike politically exposed persons who have the financial muscle to deposit their old notes without blinking, as relationship managers are assigned to such privileged persons.
“We concede that the policy of redesigning the currency is within the powers of the CBN especially with the approval and endorsement of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
“However, the lack of necessary publicity due to the absence of the Governor of CBN should be Catholic and Pentecostal factor to save the country from implosive corruption as Commercial Banks through various WhatsApp messages are soliciting for huge cash deposits of over N20 billion at twenty percent Commission.
“We respectfully submit that the dateline January 31, 2023 for phasing out old naira notes is of grave constitutional importance for the economic survival of the vast population that constitute the entity called Nigeria.
“The percentage of persons with lower educational background and economic realities of rural dwellers and some Local Governments in Nigeria without a single bank is high”, the plaintiff added.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.