Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, on Wednesday said the federal government would obey the Supreme Court ruling, which put on hold the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) naira redesign policy.
He however, said the government would take necessary steps to set aside the interim order.
Recall that the Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily halted the banning of old naira as legal from February 10.
Delivering ruling in a motion filed by Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi states, Justice Okoro, held that after a careful consideration of the motion exparte this application is granted as prayed, “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 interlocutory injunction”.
Okoro subsequently adjourned to February 15, 2023 for hearing of the main suit.
Malami, who spoke during an interview on ARISE News Channel, yesterday said that the government would abide by the apex court order due to its regard for rule of law.
Malami stated, “The rule of law provides that there has to be obedience to the judgement and orders of the Supreme Court. The rule of law provides that when you are not happy with a ruling you can file an application for setting it aside and in compliance with the rights and privileges vested in us as a government, we are equally looking at challenging the order and seeking for it to be set aside.”
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 on the grounds that 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 is in compliance 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 own 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.”
Investogist reported that the Federal Government of Nigeria had filed a preliminary objection challenging the application by Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi states against the implementation of the February 10 deadline for the swap of old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes.
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.
Ifunanya Ikueze is an Engineer, Safety Professional, Writer, Investor, Entrepreneur and Educator.