The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, ruled that the old Naira denominations of N200, N500 and N1,000 notes continue to co-exist with the new notes as legal tender till further notice.
The Supreme Court had in March 2023 extended the deadline for the phasing out of the old naira notes to 31st of December, 2023.
On November 21, the federal government filed an application before the Supreme Court seeking an extension for old naira notes to remain in circulation.
In a ruling by a seven-man panel led by Justice Inyang Okoro, the Supreme Court held that the banknotes should remain in circulation, pending when the Federal Government, after due consultation with relevant stakeholders, takes a decision on the matter.
In its lead judgement that was prepared and delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court slammed the FG for unilaterally introducing the demonetization policy through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) without consulting the Council of States, the Federal Executive Council, the National Security Council, the National Economic Council, Civil Society Organizations and other relevant stakeholders.
It held that the Federal Government failed to give valid notice to all the federating units before it decided to withdraw the old banknotes from circulation and introduce new ones.
The Supreme Court maintained that evidence before it established that a purported notice on the monetary policy was through “mere press remarks” by the then governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele.
It held that such remarks did not qualify as “reasonable notice” to the states as envisaged under section 20(3) of the CBN Act.
Besides, the court invalidated President Buhari’s directive in the broadcast he made on February 16, which allowed only the old N200 note to remain legal tender until the 10th of April.
While accusing President Buhari of disobeying the interim order it made on February 8, which directed that the old banknotes should remain in use till the determination of the case before it, the apex court stressed that the President, by going ahead to ban the old banknotes, acted in a way that was inimical to democratic governance.
According to the apex court, having disobeyed its order, the Federal Government lost its right to be granted an audience before it.
Following the end of the last administration, the President Bola Tinubu-led government re-applied to the Supreme Court for an indefinite extension of its December 31 deadline.