Some state governments have concluded plans to reactivate the contempt charges filed against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, over the apex bank’s partial compliance with the Supreme Court judgement on the naira redesign policy.
The state governments had earlier threatened to file contempt charges against Malami and Emefiele on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, if they failed to obey the Supreme Court order extending the validity of the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes to December 31, 2023.
The governments of Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara, Ondo, Ekiti, Katsina, Ogun, Cross River, Lagos, and Sokoto states, on Friday, March 10, 2023, served Malami the enrolled order of the Supreme Court on the extension of the validity of the old denominations to December 31.
By the service, the order became automatically applicable to all agencies of the Federal Government, including the CBN.
The apex bank, in a statement issued on Monday, March 14 by its acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin, directed commercial banks in the country to comply with the Supreme Court judgment of March 3.
“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and directed that the old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes remain a legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31.
“Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly,” CBN had said.
The apex bank’s directive came on a day that President Muhammadu Buhari said Malami and Emefiele needed no clearance from him (Buhari) to obey the judgment of the Supreme Court.
President Buhari added that he didn’t order the AGF and the CBN Governor to disobey the Supreme Court order extending the validity of the old naira notes.
However, it was gathered that the state governments have directed their lawyers to reactivate the contempt proceedings against Malami and Emefiele over the naira scarcity in the country despite the apex court’s order.
It was learned that the state governors, at a review meeting on Thursday, March 16 lamented that the people of the 10 states have no access to the old and new N200, 500, and N1,000 notes.
The governors stressed that they were “not swayed by the deception” of the CBN, which only issued a statement without total compliance with the Supreme Court’s judgement.
It was further gathered that the grouses of the states were based on “Non-availability of the currency notes of N200, N500, and N1,000;
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“Many people in the10 states have been going to banks without access to cash;
“Most ATMs are not dispensing N200, N500, and N1,000;
“CBN has not taken any concrete step to reduce the suffering or hardship of the people of the affected states;
“Contrary to the judgment of the Supreme Court, the CBN is still limiting the amount that can be withdrawn and the charges therein.”
Speaking on the development, the lead counsel to the states, A. U. Mustapha, SAN, said: “As far as our clients are concerned, there is no compliance with the judgement of the Supreme Court. What the CBN has done is deceptive, cosmetic and merely playing to the gallery to deride the highest court in the country.
“The governors said the people of their states are still suffering from the non-availability of the concerned currency notes.
“In the light of the judgement, it is a derision of the Supreme Court CBN to refuse to make the affected currency notes available or limit the amount a customer can withdraw.
“We have a clear mandate from our clients to go ahead with the already initiated contempt proceedings against the AGF and the CBN.
“We want the AGF and the CBN to come and prove to the Supreme Court that they have substantially complied with its judgement.
“We will go ahead with the contempt proceedings from next week. We are set for the next phase of the legal battle in the interest of all Nigerians,” Mustapha told (The Nation)