Thursday, 1st June 2023
Breaking News:

Naira redesign: Buhari hasn’t breached S’Court order, Malami insists

By Terhemba Daka, Abuja
24 February 2023   |   4:15 am
While the nation awaits decision of the Supreme Court next Friday on the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, yesterday...
Abubakar Malami

Nigeria’s attorney-general and minister for justice Abubakar Malami PHOTO: TWITTER/Abubakar Malami

• Says security agencies will determine fate of governors, others over treasonable utterances
• Bawa: Over N500bn old naira notes yet to be returned to CBN

While the nation awaits decision of the Supreme Court next Friday on the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, yesterday, said the decision of President Muhammmadu Buhari on February 16, extending the validity of only old N200 notes to circulate as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes for 60 days was not in breach of the Supreme Court order.

He said this while fielding questions from State House reporters during a media briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Supreme Court had earlier ordered commercial banks and other financial institutions to continue transacting with the old notes pending determination of the motion at the apex court on February 15.

The court had again on February 15 said its order suspending the implementation of the February 10 deadline on the old naira notes still subsists and moved the case to February 22, before it was further adjourned to March 3 for judgment.

When asked whether the Federal Government was in breach of the Supreme Court order after the presidential directive, Malami said: “Your question can best be answered within the context of what constitutes a rule of law in the Nigerian situation, where an order is made by a court, you have multiple options, but let me state before even addressing the issue of the options available at our disposal as a government.

“The fact, clearly, is that we are not in breach of any order made by the court, inclusive of any order associated with the naira redesign. We are not in breach. I believe I’m not a banker, but you have not gone to establish which bank is it that you have gone to present a N1,000 or N500 notes that has been rejected.

“But then, assuming we are in breach, the fact remains that this matter is sub-judice, as you rightly know. It’s being contested before the Supreme Court and when an order is made, you have multiple options within the context of the rule of law.

“One, you are entitled as a matter of right, if the facts and evidence support your position, to apply for setting it aside. The position of the law, legal jurisprudence is clear, once you are attacking and you seek for a setting aside of an existing order of the court, you cannot be said to be operating in breach when you present your application for setting aside.

“If the court is not an apex court, you equally have a right of appeal and support the right of appeal with an application for stay, of execution order. So, the bottom line of what I’m trying to state is if the matter is sub-judice and within the context of the rule of law, we are doing the needful as a government, in terms of ensuring that the right of the government, within the context of the naira redesign, is being protected. So we are not in breach.”

He also stated that the fate of some governors and individuals being investigated for alleged treasonable utterances over the currency swap would be determined by the security agencies involved.  

Some governors, led by Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, had openly denigrated the policy, asking their citizens not to comply with the expiration of the legality of the old N500 and N1,000 notes.

While noting certain undertones of treason in some of their utterances, the AGF stressed that investigation is ongoing and relevant security agencies would determine if there will be need for further action.  

Malami emphasised the importance of the naira redesign policy, which he said would enable citizens to assume collective ownership of the electoral system, rather than allow a few moneybags to take charge.

According to him, the policy is designed to allow freedom of choice and also fight corruption.  

MEANWHILE, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, has said over N500 billion old naira notes stashed by politicians were yet to return to CBN. He stated this during an interview on Channels TV yesterday.

The EFCC boss added that the Commission had a lot of information on some of the means politicians were devising to buy votes during elections. He said: “The only option politicians have now is to buy votes, as BVAS will do a lot of wonders. They want to maximise the numbers they have. That is the intelligence we have and I am happy that all the security agencies are working to make sure the election is successful.

“Some people stashed money for the purpose of the election. Even as of today, we still have over N500 billion old naira notes that are yet to be returned to CBN. And CBN has printed N500 billion new naira notes, which is in circulation. We have our own way of getting such Intel and God willing, we are going to use it maximally this time around.”

He added that EFCC would question some persons over the return of old naira notes to banks, though the anti-graft agency has not questioned anyone since the commencement of the naira redesign policy.