Supreme Court rule on old Naira notes. The Supreme Court has ruled that the old Naira denominations of N200, N500, and N1,000 notes will continue to co-exist with the new notes until further notice.
The court maintained that the old and new notes should remain as legal tender beyond December 31, until the Federal Government puts a process in place for their replacement or redesign after due consultation with relevant stakeholders.
The recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Nigeria has significant implications for the coexistence of old and new Naira notes as legal tender.
The apex court, led by Justice Inyang Okoro in a seven-man panel, has declared that both versions of the currency will continue to be recognized as legal tender until further notice.
This decision comes after the Supreme Court, in March 2023, extended the deadline for phasing out old Naira notes to December 31, 2023. Subsequently, on November 21, 2023, the federal government filed an application seeking an extension for the continued circulation of old Naira notes.
The court’s ruling, delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, criticizes the federal government for unilaterally introducing the demonetization policy through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) without proper consultation with key stakeholders.
The court specifically mentions the absence of consultation with the Council of States, the Federal Executive Council, the National Security Council, the National Economic Council, Civil Society Organizations, and other relevant stakeholders.
The court criticized the government for unilaterally introducing the demonetization policy through the CBN without consulting relevant stakeholders.
The Supreme Court asserts that the government failed to provide valid notice to all federating units before withdrawing the old banknotes from circulation and introducing new ones.
It emphasizes that the evidence presented indicates that the purported notice on the monetary policy was conveyed through “mere press remarks” by the former governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, which, according to the court, does not qualify as “reasonable notice” as stipulated under section 20(3) of the CBN Act.
The CBN had initially planned to phase out the old high-denomination naira notes and replace them with redesigned ones, but the program faced challenges and was eventually halted.
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The Supreme Court’s ruling has extended the lifespan of the old naira notes, allowing them to remain legal tender until further notice.
The Supreme Court’s ruling not only extends the coexistence of old and new Naira notes but also underscores the importance of proper consultation and notice in implementing significant monetary policies, criticizing the government’s approach to demonetization.