The Central Bank of Nigeria’s February 10 deadline for exchanging old notes would not be observed by the Federal Government as per the Supreme Court’s decision.
Recall that the deadline for the old notes, which was originally scheduled to expire today, February 10, was overturned by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The ex parte decision, which is due to expire on February 15, 2023, is something that the government is hoping would be overturned, according to Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami, who spoke with Arise TV on Thursday.
He claimed that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the issue in the first place and that the CBN, who is a crucial party to the dispute, was not joined in the suit.
But Malami argued that the government’s decision to abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the old notes deadline was motivated by respect for the rule of law.
He said, “The order was granted by the Supreme Court and the order incidentally lapses on Wednesday, which is the day of the hearing, with that position in mind we have taken steps to file an objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.”
The minister explained, “Jurisdiction because when you talk of monetary policy, regardless of the characters they take, the central bank is an indispensable and a necessary party for that matter.
“What we have at hand is a situation where the central bank was not joined as a party and if the central bank as an institution was not joined as a party, the position of the law is clear that the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court cannot be properly invoked.
“So we have given considerations to diverse issues, inclusive of the issue of jurisdiction, and come Wednesday we will argue the case from that perspective, among others.”
Malami added, “I think what we are talking about is not whether the ruling is binding or not binding, we are talking about what we intend to do, there is no doubt about the fact that the ruling of the Supreme Court, regardless of the prevailing circumstances, is binding and then within the context of the rule of law.
“You can equally take steps that are available to you within the context of the spirit and circumstances of the rule of law.
“And what we are doing in essence complies with the rule of law both in terms of obedience to the ruling and in terms of challenging the ruling by way of putting across our side of the story, putting across our case, challenging jurisdiction.
“So the issue of obedience to the ruling of the Supreme Court is out of it. We are wholeheartedly in agreement that naturally, we are bound by it and will comply accordingly. But within the context of compliance, we shall challenge the ruling by way of filing an application seeking for it to be set aside, it is all about the rule of law.
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”Specifically, the federal government, in its preliminary objection to the suit, insisted that the Supreme Court lacked the necessary jurisdiction to entertain the suit in the first place. The federal government argued that the agency (CBN), whose Act was being complained about by the plaintiffs, was a statutory body with legal personality that could sue and be sued in its name.”