By Enyichukwu Enemanna
The Supreme Court of Nigeria has ruled that the old notes of N200, N500, N1000 should continue to co-exist with the new notes till further notice — a period when the government will put a process in place for its replacement or redesign.
This comes barely a month to the expiry date of Dec 31 earlier fixed by the court for the old Naira notes to stop existing as legal tender.
A seven-man panel of Justices led by Justice Inyang Okoro gave the ruling on Wednesday in response to an application by the Government, asking the court to grant an extension of time for old naira notes to remain in circulation as a legal tender.
The federal government of Nigeria prayed the court to lift its March 3 order.
It said the extension of time is necessary as it has not been able to print the volume of new notes that would enable a phase out of the old currency before the December 31 order.
The Federal Government through the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Lateef Fagbemi, further explained that should the Supreme Court decline its request to extend the period of circulation of old notes, the country stands the risk of descending into another national, economic and financial crisis as witnessed in the first quarter of the year.
At the period, the naira redesign policy implemented under the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele led to scarcity of Naira notes.
The Attorney-General urged the court to allow the old notes to be in use with the new notes until after it consults with stakeholders, pointing out that the economy may be in jeopardy once again because some Nigerians have started hoarding the old and new naira notes ahead of the December 31st timeline.
In a unanimous decision, the court granted the application of the federal government.