A lawyer, Joshua Alobo, has sued the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), over the 31 January deadline set to end the use of the old notes.
Mr Alobo, a professor of law, asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the CBN from making 31 January deadline for old 1000, 500 and 200 naira notes.
Specifically, the plaintiff begged the court to issue an 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 dispense by the commercial banks.”
He listed the CBN, its governor, Godwin Emefiele, and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) as defendants.
Mr Alobo acknowledged in an affidavit deposed to by Musa Damudi, that the central bank had on 26 October, 2022, announced the introduction of redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes into the financial system.
The plaintiff lamented that the less-privileged Nigerians were yet to have the new naira notes that were unveiled last November by President Muhammadu Buhari.
‘New notes not in circulation’
Mr Alobo accused money deposit banks of failing to make the redesigned notes available to their customers.
He said as of 25 January, he was still given the old notes on the counter and through the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM).
The plaintiff further noted that shopping malls in Abuja are rejecting the old notes, while ATM daily limit withdrawal is pegged at N20,000.
He contended that the terminal date of 31 January for 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.”
The lawyer admitted that the “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.”
“We respectfully submit that the dateline January 31, 2023 for phasing 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 argued.
Citing plots by the State Security Service (SSS) to arrest Mr Emefiele over allegations of terrorism financing, Mr Alobo said the situation resulted in “uncertainty as to the full implementation of the redesigned naira notes.”
The Federal High Court in Abuja, had declined an exparte application by the SSS in which it sought to arrest the CBN, a move many Nigerians have attributed to the apex bank’s monetary policy to redesign Nigeria’s legal tender, the naira.
The standoff between the SSS and Mr Emefiele lingered on until the latter’s return to Nigeria. He arrived into the country on 13 January and later met with Mr Buhari.
Many Nigerians have criticised CBN’s naira redesign policy, with the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, saying the policy was intended to scuttle his presidential ambition.
With Tuesday as the deadline, Nigerians in their numbers have thronged the banks in major cities across the country to lodge their old bank notes.
The scramble by many Nigerians to meet the 31January deadline has been chaotic as many of them flood banking halls with huge cash in old notes to exchange them with the new ones.
Others are seen on long queues at the few ATM points having the new naira notes in different parts of the country to have have access.
Amid the scarcity of the new notes and with CBN’s adamant stance of sticking to the 31 January deadline, many Nigerians are no longer able to perform basic transactions as business owners have stopped collecting the old notes.
No date has been slated for the hearing of the suit.
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