A lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, has explained the judgement of the Supreme Court restraining the Federal Government from implementing the Central Bank of Nigeria’s February 10 ultimatum for the old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes to cease being legal tender in the country.
Ozekhome, who featured on Channels Television on Wednesday night said the Supreme Court only paused the implementation of the deadline saying the apex court had not decided on the matter.
He further explained that the apex court gave the judgement so as to prevent the subject matter of the suit from being truncated.
Explaining the development, Ozekhome said, “The Supreme Court has not decided the matter. All it has done is to fall back to a decision like Kotoye vs CBN, that in matters of extreme urgency, you can grant an interim order, even if it be an ex-parte, to prevent the subject matter of the suit being truncated.
“If, for example, the Supreme Court, did not make that order, and the only order existing is that of the High Court, it means that the CBN, by 10th of this month, will stop the use of all old notes.
“But what the Supreme Court has said is, ‘Just wait, let us listen to you people,’ not that it has decided that Zamfara, Kogi and Kaduna states have any valid case that is actionable because the action is already being challenged with a preliminary objection.
“It is another way of saying, ‘Let us first drive away the fox before we blame the fowl for wandering too far into the forest,’” he said.
A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, led by Justice John Okoro in a unanimous ruling granted an interim injunction restraining the Federal Government from implementing the CBN’s February 10 deadline for the swapping of the old naira notes with the new ones.
A judgement that followed a motion ex-parte on behalf of three northern states Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara , who on February 3rd filed a suit seeking to halt the implementation of the CBN’s policy.
The PUNCH reported on Monday that a Federal High Court in Abuja stopped the President, Major General Muhammadu Buahri (retd.) alongside the CBN and commercial banks from interfering, suspending or extending the terminal date of February 10 for the expiration of the old naira notes.
Again, Ozekhome explained that other lower courts could not interfere when decisions were being debated at the apex court.
“Notwithstanding the fact that a high court or Federal High Court had granted an order telling the CBN, ‘You can stop this naira swap policy on the 10th of February as you have decided to do’, the Supreme Court today said, ‘Hello? Don’t do that! Allow it to continue. Come back on the 15th of February and let us hear you people,’” he added.
He explained that the apex court’s judgement allows the old and new naira to be in the same position, adding that any decision arrived at by the Supreme Court, will not only affect the three state governments that dragged the FG to court, but all the states of the federation and their attorney-generals.
Ozekhome therefore submitted that, “this is the type of matter in which the Supreme Court should also suo motu, even if they did not apply to be joined, join all the attorneys-general of the federation, so that the matter could be decided once and for all.”