From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has barred President Muhammadu Buhari, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, from suspending, stopping or extending the currency redesign terminal date of February 10 or any directive contrary to the terminal date.
Also affected by the order of the court are 27 commercial banks listed as defendants in the suit filed by four political parties.
Justice Eleojo Enenche had after listening to counsel to the claimants/applicants, Action Alliance (AA), Action Peoples Party (APP), Allied Peoples Movement(APM) and National Rescue Movement(MRM), Obed Agu, issued the interim order which has a life span of seven days.
The political parties in their originating processes marked FCT HC/CV/2234/2023, filed on February 6, 2023, sought the injunctive orders on the heels of perceived moves by the Federal Government to extend the terminal date of February 10, for the use of the old notes.
Justice Enenche also granted an order directing the CEOs of the banks and their alter egos to show cause why they should not be arrested and prosecuted for the economic and financial sabotage of the country by their illegal hoarding, withholding, not paying or disbursing the new N200, N500 and N1000 bank notes despite the supply of such notes by the Central Bank.
The order is coming on the heels of a suit filed at the Supreme Court by Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara states seeking the stoppage of the implementation of the monetisation policy.
The development has pre-empted further moves by some state Governors alleged to be behind the moves to stop this policy, including the Governors of Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara, Ondo, Rivers, Imo, Benue and Kano.
It equally ties the hands of bank CEOs and their staff who have been alleged to be hoarding the new banknotes and trading with them thereby causing untold hardship to ordinary citizens.
Meanwhile, a cross-section of lawyers, a civil society organisation and ethnic youth groups have hailed the order saying it was best for the country and would afford the stakeholders opportunity to now concentrate on how to ameliorate the hardship occasioned by the policy.
Groups such as Arewa Consultative Youth Movement, Ohanaeze Youth Movement, Oduduwa Youth Assembly all hailed the order. Arewa Youths said that looters of the commonwealth of the people have lost out while Ohanaeze Youths insist that vote buyers and election riggers have been relegated just as Oduduwa Youth hold the view that kickbacks will be very difficult now, corruption greatly limited and a chance for money laundering made slimmer.
A continental civil society organisation, the African Centre for Justice and Human Rights says the order of the court is the first step in sanitising the country’s financial market and helps in conducting very credible polls as politicians will find it extremely difficult if not impossible to have access to cash to compromise elections.
Meanwhile, the court has fixed February 14 for the hearing of the motion on notice.