Naira Scarcity: Buhari Cannot Overrule The Supreme Court – Olu-Adegboruwa

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has said that the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari on the old naira notes is a “disregard” for the Supreme Court.

Buhari, in a nationwide broadcast on Thursday, said old N500 and N1,000 notes could be swapped at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and designated points.

The president said the old N200 note would remain legal tender until April 10 when it would cease to be valid.

“To further ease the supply pressures, particularly to our citizens, I have given approval to the CBN that the old N200 bank notes be released back into circulation and that it should also be allowed to circulate as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes for 60 days from February 10, 2023 to April 10, 2023, when the old N200 note ceases to be legal tender,” he said.

But on February 8, the Supreme Court, while ruling on an ex parte application brought by three states — Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara — restrained the federal government from giving effect to the deadline on the use of old notes pending the determination of the suit.

CBN governor Godwin Emefiele had insisted that the February 10 deadline was still valid despite the ruling of the apex court.

At the resumption of the case on Wednesday, the apex court adjourned the hearing to February 22 and insisted the old naira notes were still legal tender.

Adegboruwa, in a legal opinion, said the president cannot overrule the Supreme Court and that there is a separation of power in a democracy.

The lawyer said the president “should not vary” the ruling of the supreme court on the naira redesign policy, and urged him to reverse himself.

“The President cannot overrule the Supreme Court of Nigeria. There is a separation of powers in a democracy,” he said.

“Under section 235 of the 1999 Constitution, the Supreme Court is the final authority in legal pronouncements in Nigeria.

“Under section 287(1) of the Constitution, the President is statutorily obliged to obey, enforce and give effect to the decision of the Supreme Court.

Section 287(1) of the 1999 Constitution:

“(1) The decisions of the Supreme court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by All authorities and persons, and by courts with subordinate jurisdiction’s to that of the Supreme Court.”

“The broadcast of the president is sad for our democracy. Since he already admitted that the matter is subjudice, the President should not have proceeded to vary the order of the Supreme Court.

“The president and indeed the executive should not give the impression that citizens can brazenly disregard lawful orders of any court, as that will only encourage anarchy and lawlessness.

“It amounts to executive rascality, brazen disregard, and contempt of the Supreme Court, for the President to separate the denomination of the old notes for legality. It is not open to the President to choose which portion of the order of the Supreme Court that will be obeyed.

“The President should reverse his directive and add the N500 and N1000 old notes, failing which the Supreme Court should overrule the directive of the President on February 22 when the case comes up.”

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