2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
Nigerian Governors in alleged move to delay Supreme Court judgment on currency swap through joinder applications
As part of efforts to deliberately stall the Supreme Court ruling on a suit by three state governments against the move by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to phase out the use of the old N200, N500 and N1,000, which comes up for hearing on Wednesday, governors of some states in the country have chosen to continue to file for joinder in the matter.
The suit which was originally filed by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states have been joined by Ondo, Kano and Ekiti states, with Rivers state also indicating its preparedness to do same.
Sources at the Federal Ministry of Justice that disclosed this to THISDAY on Sunday, also revealed that as of close of business on Friday, the ministry was yet to receive the certified true copy of the Supreme Court ruling on the currency issue.
The sources stressed that the design of the state governors, who were joining the Supreme Court suit was to delay the judgement and have the old currency run till after the election.
One of the sources, who pleaded to remain anonymous, said, “It is the design of the governors, who are adding many joinder suits, to delay the judgement and try to keep the state of affairs whereby the old currency would continue to be in use, while they lobby Supreme Court justices so that they cannot reach a judgement, and to push the Supreme Court decision on this matter until after the presidential election.
“They want to use the cash for the presidential election. So, they are adding more joinder suits to delay the outcome of the judgement so that the two currencies can work together. So, what we see is that the vote-buyers are fighting back.”
The revelation came just as governors of the 36 states of the federation rose from a meeting at the weekend in Abuja with a resolution to direct their Attorneys General to review the suit with a view to consolidating the legal reliefs pursued by the states.
The 36 governors also asked the federal government and the CBN to respect the rule of law and halt the currency restrictions, which they argued were causing an economic crisis.
The governors made the assertions in a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), which was signed by the forum’s chairman, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal.
The Supreme Court had in a ruling on February 8 suspended the CBN’s February 10 deadline to stop the use of old currency notes. The bank had ordered citizens to swap out old N1, 000, N500, and N200 banknotes for a redesigned currency by the deadline. But the apex court, ruling in an ex parte application by three states – Zamfara, Kogi and Kaduna – stopped the CBN from banning the old notes pending the hearing and determination of the case. It fixed February 15 for hearing.
The move to ban the old banknotes had caused cash shortages, remonstrations and attacks on banks in some places.
Also, yesterday, Ekiti State Government applied to be joined as a co-plaintiff in the suit against the federal government at the Supreme Court on the CBN’s currency redesign.
However, the central bank told the Federal High Court, in Akure, that extending the expiry date for the old naira notes would jeopardise the fight against fraud, corruption and criminal activities in the country.
Meanwhile, ahead of the February 25, 2023 presidential election, the Catholic Bishops under the auspices of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has charged Nigerians to resist the dubious practice of vote buying.
The 36 state governors urged the federal government and the CBN to listen to the voice of reason expressed by Nigerians and several other stakeholders, including the Council of State, before the damage to the economy became too great to fix by the next administration.
The state chief executives accused the apex bank of pursuing a currency confiscation programme and not the currency exchange policy envisaged under Section 20 (3) of the CBN Act, 2007.
The governors stated that although the Attorney General of the Federation promised that the federal government would comply with the ruling of the Supreme Court halting the CBN’s plan to end the use of the old currency notes, they were yet to observe changes in the financial system.
The communiqué stated, “We, members of the NGF, at our meeting today discussed critical issues of national interest and resolved as follows:
“First, we express our sympathies and support with Nigerians who are experiencing great difficulties under the current CBN naira re-design and cash withdrawal restrictions policy. We feel your pain and we are determined to employ all legitimate channels to ease the situation.
“It has become necessary to make a distinction between the CBN naira redesign policy backed by Section 20 (3) of the CBN Act, 2007, and the aspirational policy of going cashless, both of which are mutually exclusive at this time.
“It is our considered view that what the CBN is at present pursuing is a currency confiscation programme, not the currency exchange policy envisaged under S20 (3) of the CBN Act, 2007.”
The communique explained that currency confiscation involved a situation whereby the liquidity provided to the general public was grossly insufficient due to the restrictions placed on the amount that could be withdrawn, regardless of the amount deposited.
The governors’ forum noted that the current approach of the CBN raised concerns about the respect for the civil liberties and rights of Nigerians as it relates to their freedom to use legitimately earned income as they so wish.
The communique continued, “The forum believes that to deploy a cashless policy and deepen digital transactions, the best practice around the world is to create a suite of incentives to attract customers; rather than a draconian approach, as we have witnessed in the last three months.
“The argument by the CBN for what it describes as the astronomical increase in the currency in circulation as the basis for this policy is not supported by its own data. According to the CBN, the currency in circulation increased from N1.4 trillion in 2015, to N3.23 trillion in October 2022. The bank appears not to have taken into consideration the increase in the size of the country’s nominal GDP over this period, the doubling of consumer prices, rising population, and the impact of the humongous Ways and Means advances to the federal government by the Central Bank of Nigeria over this period.
“In the circumstances, it is safe to draw either of two conclusions – the CBN data may be incomplete or in fact, Nigerians may have done exceptionally well in the transition to a cashless economy.
“In addition, considering the sizeable informal sector in the nation, the amount of banknotes created in exchange so far by the CBN implies it vastly underestimated the economy’s actual cash needs.”
The governors said the inability to use the new notes had engendered far-reaching economic effects, “Leading to the emergence of the naira black market, severe food inflation, variable commodities prices based on the method of exchange, and long queues as well as crowds around Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and banking halls across the country, with individuals hoping to get a fraction of their money in new notes to meet their daily livelihood.”
According to the state governors, the country runs the risk of a CBN-induced recession.
The governors said in the communique, “Consequently, we call on the federal government and the CBN to respect the rule of law and listen to the voice of reason expressed by Nigerians and several other stakeholders, including the Council of State, before the damage to our economy becomes too great to fix by the next administration.
“Members rose from the meeting agreeing to direct their Attorneys General to review the suit at the Supreme Court with a view to consolidating the legal reliefs pursued by states.”
Resist Politicians’ Vote-buying Antics, Catholic Bishops Tell Nigerians
However, the CBCN has charged Nigerians to resist the dubious practice of vote buying.
The bishops urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to toy with the confidence and trust Nigerians placed on them by ensuring that the processes involved in the forthcoming elections are bereft of all forms ambiguity capable of offending the collective sensibility of Nigerians.
In his Pastoral Letter delivered on Sunday, at the opening of the conference, CBCN President, Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, urged the electorate to resolve to vote according to their conscience and convictions.
While condemning vote-buying, Ugorji said the practice of inducing the poor and vulnerable voters to cast their votes for a particular candidate in exchange for some financial reward seeks to deny such citizens their real voice and choice in the electoral process.
“More to the point, such brazen use of wealth offends the dignity of the poor and vulnerable while making it increasingly difficult for good but poor candidates to contest and win elections.
“Therefore, we urge Nigerians to stoutly resist the odious practice and resolve to vote according to one’s conscience and convictions,” he said.
Ugorji while cautioning politicians to be mindful of the tone of their campaign messages, also reminded the leadership of the country’s judiciary not to engage in abuse judicial power and office.
He expressed regret that, “judicial corruption has risen as politicians seek to importune judges with unprintable sums of money to overturn the will of the people in fair elections.”
Speaking, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said the association had provided guidelines to all Christians, urging them to use factors like character, capacity and competence in choosing the preferred presidential candidate.
He said CAN had also concluded the training of total of 1200 observers who would be deployed at national and local levels to monitor the 2023 general elections.
The Archbishop used the occasion to condemn the attack on supporters of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, by thugs during their rally in Lagos, describing it as worrisome.
In his goodwill message, the Dean of the Church in Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Buns Lamido, who represented the Prelate, enjoined Nigerians to participate actively in the process of governance.
He explained that participation was a key element of good governance system which provides citizens the opportunity to monitor and influence public decision, processes and actions.
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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