Supreme Court Extends Validity of Old Naira Notes Beyond December 31
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Supreme Court has ordered that the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes should continue to co-exist with the new banknotes beyond the earlier December 31, 2023, deadline.
The apex court ruled on Wednesday that both old and new notes should continue to remain legal tender until the federal government puts a process in place for its replacement or redesign after due consultation with relevant stakeholders.
The seven-man panel led by Justice Inyang Okoro gave the ruling following an application by the central government asking the court to grant an extension of time for old naira notes to remain in circulation as legal tender.
The national government also asked the court to lift its March 3 order, noting that the extension of time is necessary as it has not been able to print the volume of new notes that would enable a phase-out of the old currency before the December 31 order.
In the fresh application by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Lateef Fagbemi, the Federal Government further explained that should the Supreme Court decline its request to extend the period of circulation of old notes, the country stands the risk of descending into another national, economic and financial crisis as witnessed in the first quarter of the year when the Naira redesign policy was being implemented under the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.
The government asked the court to allow the old notes to be in use with the new notes until after it consults with stakeholders, pointing out that the economy may be in jeopardy once again because some Nigerians have started hoarding the old and new naira notes ahead of the December 31st timeline.
In a unanimous decision, the seven-man panel allowed the country’s application.
Business Post had reported earlier this month that the central bank announced that the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes would remain legal tender indefinitely.
The redesign policy, introduced in October last year, brought about chaos as Nigerians experienced difficulty in accessing cash from the bank.
The policy was met with criticism by many Nigerians, including President Bola Tinubu, who was then the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), saying the policy was intended to disrupt his ambition to occupy the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
There was a scramble by many Nigerians to meet the initial January 31 deadline as many of them flooded banking halls with huge amounts of cash in old notes to exchange them with new ones.
Amid this rush, there were long queues at the few ATM points having the new Naira notes in different parts of the country. This spurred protests and demonstrations as Nigerians took out their anger on the banking staff of some lenders.