The Supreme Court on Wednesday restrained the Federal Government from implementing the Friday deadline for the currency swap.
A seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice John Okoro, in a unanimous ruling, granted an interim injunction restraining the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria and commercial banks from implementing the Friday terminal date for the old naira notes.
Also on Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank urged the CBN to extend the time limit.
The advice of the international organisations was in line with the Supreme Court ruling against the Friday deadline.
The IMF and the World Bank stated that the short timeframe for the currency was causing hardships in the country.
Delivering the ruling in the application filed by the governors of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara States, Okoro granted the relief as prayed.
He stated, “An order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on February 10, 2023, the time frame with which the now older version of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denomination of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”
The court further held that the FG, the CBN and commercial banks must not continue with the deadline pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue on February 15.
Recall that three northern states had in a motion ex parte filed on February 3, urged the apex court to halt the CBN naira redesign policy.
Moving the application on Wednesday, counsel to the applicants, Mr Adul-Hakeem Mustapha, SAN, argued that the policy had led to an “excruciating situation that is almost leading to anarchy in the land.”
He urged the apex court to grant the application in the interest of justice and the welfare of Nigerians.
He referenced the CBN statistics which put the number of people without bank accounts at over 60 per cent.
Mustapha lamented that the few Nigerians with bank accounts had not been able to access their money as a result of the policy.
The senior lawyer further averred that unless the Supreme Court intervened, the situation would lead to anarchy because most banks were already closing operations.