President Muhammadu Buhari has came under heavy attacks on Thursday hours after his national broadcast on the cash crisis swap.
Lawyers and public commentators berated the President for ordering the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to retain only the old N200 notes as legal tender until April 10, 2023.
ADULAWO NEWS reports that his order is contrary to the February 8 ruling of the Supreme Court that the N200, N500 and N1,000 old notes should remain legal tender.
The Court on Thursday reaffirmed the ruling, shifting ruling on the case to February 22.
Recall that ADULAWO NEWS had earlier reported that Buhari, in a broadcast on Thursday morning, following violence in some parts of the nation over rejection of the old notes and scarcity of new notes, ordered only old N200 note should be reintroduced and retain as legal tender until April 10, 2023.
His order elicited wide condemnations with many hitting him for disobeying orders of the highest court of the land.
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Human Rights lawyer Dr. Monday Ubani said, “There was an interim order which says there should be a stay of action until all grievances are looked at because unfortunately many other states are joining the suit, and the Supreme Court saw the wisdom in giving room for other parties to join so that there will proper parties before it before going ahead to look at the issues on its merit, that was why there was an adjournment yesterday.
“But unfortunately what the president has done this morning is ignore whatever is going on at the Supreme Court.
“When you say you will only allow old N200 to be in circulation, it means old N500 and N1000 are no longer legal tenders.
“My own understanding of what has taken place is that he has overruled the Supreme Court. He’s clearly not mindful of what is going on at the Supreme Court with what he has just done.
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“I am not too happy with what has happened this morning in terms of the president overruling the Supreme Court. We are not telling the world that we are practicing democracy. It is not a proper precedent.
“If you cannot obey your court orders, how do you instill confidence in the international community to come into your country to make investments? In case there is any dispute, can there be a decision of the court that can be complied with within your country? We are not sending the right signal.”
Activist-lawyer Ebunoluwa Adegboruwa, SAN, has said.
Adegboruwa said by purporting to vary the apex court’s order that all the old notes should continue to be legal tender, the President committed “executive rascality.”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria slammed Buhari for attempting to “overrule the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”
Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court, in a case filed by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states, barred the Federal Government, acting through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or any other agent, from enforcing the February 10 deadline for the use of old naira notes.
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In a unanimous ruling by a seven-member panel, led by Justice John Okoro, it held that the “interim injunction” will subsist “pending the hearing and determination of the plaintiffs/applicants’ motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”
On Wednesday, the court said its February 8 order barring the Federal Government and its agencies from enforcing the February 10 deadline for the use of old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes subsists.
But, despite touting his administration’s “respect” for the rule of law and admitting in his speech that “the subject matter is before the courts and some pronouncements have been made”, the President still disregarded the apex court’s order in part.
He said: “To further ease the supply pressures particularly to our citizens, I have given approval to the CBN that the old N200 bank notes be released back into circulation and that it should also be allowed to circulate as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes for 60 days from February 10, 2023 to April 10 2023 when the old N200 notes ceases to be legal tender.”
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Faulting him, Adegboruwa said: “The President cannot overrule the Supreme Court of Nigeria. There is separation of powers in a democracy.
“Under section 235 of the 1999 Constitution, the Supreme Court is the final authority in legal pronouncements in Nigeria.
“Under section 287(1) of the Constitution, the President is statutorily obliged to obey, enforce and give effect to the decision of the Supreme Court.”
Section 287(1) of the 1999 Constitution reads: “(1) The decisions of the Supreme court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by courts with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the supreme Court.”
The senior lawyer said the President’s broadcast “is sad for our democracy. Since he already admitted that the matter is subjudice, the President should not have proceeded to vary the order of the Supreme Court.
“The President and indeed the executive should not give the impression that citizens can brazenly disregard lawful orders of any court, as that will only encourage anarchy and lawlessness.
“It amounts to executive rascality and brazen disregard and contempt of the Supreme Court, for the President to separate the denomination of the old notes for legality. It is not open to the President to choose which portion of the order of the Supreme Court that will be obeyed.”
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Adegboruwa advised him to retrace his steps.
“The President should reverse his directive and add the N500 and N1000 old notes, failing which the Supreme Court should overrule the directive of the President on February 22 when the case comes up,” he added.