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Naira Swap: Things to know about Supreme Court judgement

The Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended the February 10 deadline for the swap of old naira notes with new ones given by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The CBN had moved the deadline earlier set for the expiration of the legal tender status of the old notes from January 31 to February 10 after the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, met with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

Nigerians have been groaning under the pain caused by the deadline as they are unable to get the new notes, while the old notes are being sold to them by Point of Sales vendors.

Pockets of protests had broken out in some states including Delta, Ekiti, Ogun, Oyo and Ondo, with officials of banks being attacked by protesters and bank properties destroyed.

Moreover, the naira redesign policy has caused some wrangling within the ruling All Progressives Congress with some chieftains of the party alleging that the policy is targeted at reducing the winning chances of the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, at the February 25 poll.

Tinubu also had made some comments in some of his campaign rallies which were believed to be directed at Buhari and some unnamed persons in the Presidency, a notion that the APC PCC spokesperson, Bayo Onanuga, had continued to dismiss.

Not favourably disposed to the naira redesign policy, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, granted an interview to Arise TV where he said some “elements” in Aso Rock working against the ambition of Tinubu were behind the naira and fuel crises in the country. He also alleged that Buhari was “deceived” by the CBN to give a nod to the controversial naira redesign policy.

Below are three things to know about the Wednesday Supreme Court ruling over the matter:

1. Some APC governors initiated the suit
El-Rufai and two other APC governors —Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State — dragged the CBN and the Federal Government to the Supreme Court, seeking a halt to the full implementation of the naira redesign policy initiated by the apex bank.

2. It is a temporary halt, a suspension
The Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday temporarily halted the move by the Federal Government through the CBN to ban the use of the old naira notes from February 10, 2023.

It is noteworthy that the ruling is an “interim injunction” — not a complete stop to the naira redesign policy — pending the hearing and determination of the case filed by the APC governors.

Justice Okoro of the Supreme Court held that, “An order of Interim Injunction restraining the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on February 10, 2023, the time frame with which the now older version of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denomination of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction.”

3. February 15 hearing
It is not certain yet what will happen after the hearing of the case on February 15.

While Nigerians can heave a sigh of relief that the February 10 deadline has now been suspended, and that they have some more time to deposit their old naira notes and/or swap with the redesigned ones, the outcome of the February 15 hearing at the Supreme Court will determine for how long the relief will last.

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Segun Akinlabi

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