A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has described the announcement by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), that only the old N200 banknote remains legal tender while the old N500 and N1,000 notes are not as a contempt of court.
According to the lawyer-cum-activist, the president cannot overrule the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The PUNCH reports that 10 state governors — Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara, Katsina, Lagos, Cross River, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo and Sokoto —have dragged the Federal Government to the Supreme Court over the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, which introduced new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes and directed the old notes ceased to be legal tender from February 10, 2023.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court adjourned the suit to February 22, 2023.
Buhari in a nationwide address on Thursday morning announced that the old N200 note remains legal tender till April 10 but the old N500 and N1,000 notes are not.
Reacting, Adegoruwa, in a statement on Thursday morning, faulted the president, saying he flouted the principle of the separation of powers.
He said, “There is separation of powers in a democracy.
“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 to that of the supreme Court.”
Adegoruwa added that the president’s broadcast is “sad for our democracy.”
He added, “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 and 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 in on February 22 when the case comes up.”