Human rights lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has faulted the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for flauting an order of the supreme court suspending the implementation of the February 10 deadline on the old naira notes.
The supreme court has last week while ruling on an ex parte application brought by three states: Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara, the supreme court, restrained the CBN from giving effect to the deadline on the use of old notes.
Abubakar Malami. attorney-general of the federation (AGF), while filing a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter, said the federal government would obey the order in line with the rule of law.
But the CBN governor on Tuesday said the February 10 deadline remains sacrosanct, even as some commercial banks, filling stations, and traders have stopped accepting the old naira notes from customers.
In an interview with Channels Television on Tuesday, Falana said CBN has a responsibility to direct commercial banks to comply with the order of the court.
“In a country where the rule of law operates, once the supreme court has determined a matter or given an order, it is expected that all and sundry – everybody – will comply with the order,” he said.
“In this instance, the government was not really ready to comply with the order.
“A statement was credited to the central bank that said since it was not a party to the case, it is not going to comply with the order.
“I thought that could only happen in a Banana Republic
“Because you would have expected the central bank to have issued a statement that following the order of the supreme court, all actions are seen on the 15th of February.
“I think the plaintiffs will have to take it up in the court.”
According to the senior lawyer, the CBN and its governor cannot refuse to obey the court order on the excuse that it is not a party in the suit.
“When the caught in Abuja granted an order that Godwin Emefiele is not arrested, he wasn’t a party to the case,” Falana said.
“When he ran to use some proxies to file an action against the central bank board in Delta state, preventing the bank from moving against him for participating in politics, he wasn’t a party. So people can also choose to pick which orders of the court to obey.”
He added that the CBN is inciting the public against commercial banks despite not disbursing sufficient cash.
“Unfortunately, the Central Bank appears to have incited the public against the banks because people now troop to the banks,” he said.
“Let the public know how much you have released to each bank so that we can also ask them can you justify what you did with the money. But if you run the country on the basis of secrecy, you leave people guessing and making allegations and counter-allegations.
He said although the policy is supposed to be a good strategy to curb vote buying, “it was not well thought out”.
“There was no committee to learn from what happened to Nigeria in 1984 when the Buhari military junta changed the colour of the naira and gave Nigeria only two weeks. At that time, the population was 81 million. Many people died and even committed suicide because they couldn’t get their money.”
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