State governments, which sued the Federal Government on the naira redesign policy, have given the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, till Tuesday to comply with the order of the Supreme Court on the currency.
The state governments threatened to file contempt charges against the two top officials on Tuesday should they fail to obey the apex court which ordered that the old N1,000, N500 and N200 should be in circulation alongside the new notes till December 31, 2023.
Over one week after the court handed down the order, the AGF and the CBN have kept mum over the verdict. Their silence has emboldened Nigerians and businesses to reject the old notes as legal tender.
Saturday PUNCH reported on Friday that the Federal Government had been served with the enrolled order and Certified True Copy of the Supreme Court judgment ordering the use of old notes as legal tender for 10 months.
The counsel for Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states, which dragged the Federal Government before the Supreme Court on the matter, Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN), disclosed that Malami was served with the enrolled order and the CTC of the judgment on Friday afternoon, adding that he expected immediate compliance with the judgment as the non-service of the documents had given the government and the CBN an escape route.
Mustapha said, “The Attorney-General of the Federation has been served now and we will take it up from there; if there is no compliance now, we will commence committal proceedings against the attorney-general and the CBN governor.”
But giving an update on the move to enforce compliance with the order of the apex court on Sunday, the Zamfara State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Junaidu Aminu, revealed that since the Federal Government had refused to implement the judgment, the plaintiffs in the suit would approach the court again to ensure compliance with the court’s order.
States await FG
Aminu told The PUNCH that the states would file contempt charges against the Federal Government on Tuesday.
He said, “We have just served the Attorney General of the Federation with the Certified True Copy of the Enrolled Order of the Supreme Court last Friday. We are waiting for them to respect the court’s decision on the naira notes and comply with the decision. If they fail to comply on Monday, we are filing our case on Tuesday.’’
The AG insisted that Emefiele must address Nigerians on the naira notes issued on or before Monday (today), noting that “that is what Nigerians are waiting for.”
“If he fails to do so, we will go back to court again to sue him and the Federal Government on contempt charges,’’ he warned.
The Zamfara State justice commissioner explained that it was the duty of the AGF to direct the CBN governor to implement the court’s verdict on the naira notes.
Aminu further said, “The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, is the one who should direct the CBN to comply with the Supreme Court’s verdict and allow the old naira notes to remain legal tender until December 31.”
Explaining why the CBN governor was not a party in the matter, he stated, “The matter is between some states and the Federal Government. The CBN governor is an ordinary civil servant who receives directives from the Federal Government.”
Speaking with The PUNCH on Sunday, Ekiti State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Dayo Apata, SAN, said the state would align with other states on whatever legal steps would make the Federal Government comply with the Supreme Court judgment on the naira redesign and cash swap policy.
Apata said, “Definitely, we are all in the same boat and what is important to us is to ensure compliance with the court order. So, whatever we will do legally that will make the parties comply, we will align with it.
“Whatever that is going to be legally possible for us to achieve the aims and objectives of our going to court, we will align with other states.’’
C’Rivers back others
In the same vein, the Cross River State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Tanko Ashang, said the state would join other states to sue the FG.
“Yes. You are aware we were part of the parties that took the Federal Government to Court. The state parties are together,” he said.
Also, the Kogi State Government affirmed that machinery had been set in motion to compel the CBN to comply with the judicial directive.
The state Commissioner for information, Kingsley Fanwo, in a telephone chat with our correspondent explained that the plaintiffs in the suit including Kogi State had already commenced work on enforcing the judgment.
Commenting on the continued silence of the Federal Government on the order, the Rivers State Government said it was disturbing.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Chris Finebone, who said this in an interview with The PUNCH, noted that it was important the FG made pronouncements on the Supreme Court order rather than keeping mum in the face of the suffering being experienced by the citizens.
“The way to go is clear. The Supreme Court has ruled that the old notes should remain valid as legal tender.
“So, I think what the Federal Government should have done is to come out to say yes, we have heard from the Supreme Court and we will give it everything to support the use of those old currencies until such a time as specified by the court judgment.”