THE LEAD – SUPREME COURT VERDICT: Bankers fear fresh ‘bashing’ amid CBN’s silence

  • Apex bank awaiting Malami’s directive – Insiders
  • If it is to take my mat to the bank, I’ll collect all my money this week – Customer
  • Implement judgement now, Nigerians have suffered enough, Akeredolu, others tell FG


Uba Group

There is anxiety and confusion in the banking sector as the Central Bank of Nigeria has yet to respond formally to the latest ruling by the Supreme Court extending the validity of the old Naira notes till December 31, 2023. As at Sunday evening, the CBN had yet to react to the Supreme Court judgement. There has been no official statement on its website and none on any of its social media handles.

Also, all efforts by The Point to get the new CBN spokesman, Isa Abdulmumin, to react to the apex court’s ruling proved unsuccessful. He neither answered calls to his phone nor responded to WhatsApp and text messages.

However, some bankers who spoke to The Point on the condition of anonymity indicated that they had not received instructions from the CBN. The Point gathered that the apex bank is waiting for official confirmation from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, since the initial suit was brought against the Federal Government and not against the CBN.

“The CBN will have to instruct banks to collect the old notes for there to be full compliance,” said a top bank official who pleaded not to be quoted. Meanwhile, Nigerians across the country have continued to hail the Supreme Court judgement, which nullified the Federal Government’s naira redesign policy and ruled that old naira notes would continue to be legal tender till December 31, 2023.



Those who spoke in separate interviews with The Point said they could not wait to touch cash the way they wanted after weeks of suffering, recounting how many people had died in the different struggles that accompanied what many experts described as cash confiscation policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

An Executive Director of one of the top five banks in Nigeria, who spoke in confidence to our correspondent, said the banks welcomed the apex bank judgement but that bankers were already dreading the confusion that would be witnessed in bank branches across the nation as customers would besiege the banks to withdraw their money on Monday (today). “We just hope that the CBN would communicate the next line of action immediately so that we would avoid the burning of banks like we witnessed before the presidential election.

Anyhow, colleagues are already preparing for the inevitable bashing that would follow the lack of clear communication from the CBN on this latest development,” he said. A bank customer, Johnson Matthew, who said he had accounts in the United Bank for Africa Plc as well as GTBank Plc, said he was so happy that, at last, things would go on normally in the country. He recounted how he lost his younger sister before they could take her from Benue State to Abuja for medical attention.

“My younger ones looked for cash everywhere, they could not find it and vehicles insisted they would not take transfers. We were helpless for over four hours. At the end of the day, after buying N20, 000 cash with N30, 000, they left for Abuja, but did not enter the town before she gave up,” he recounted. Another bank customer, in Lagos State said he would leave out Monday for the banks to get their acts together and storm his bank on Tuesday to collect all his money before the Federal Government would change its mind. “I will leave Monday for them. But on Tuesday, if it is to carry my mat to the bank, I will make sure I collect all my money.

They can change their mind again. Enough is enough,” he said. Also, some top bank officials who spoke to The Point on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the matter said the CBN had the final say. One of the officials working with Ecobank said they would obey what CBN says, not the Supreme Court.

“The financial industry in Nigeria is heavily regulated, and we only listen to what the CBN says. Despite the ruling, we still need to hear from our regulator,” he said. Asked whether the apex bank would obey, he said the CBN reports to the President and that the President had decided on the issue. “We all know what the President has said on the matter. The CBN takes its orders from the Presidency.

I am sure any action by CBN would be a directive from the President,” he said. Another banker who does not want his name or that of his bank mentioned said the CBN had the final say. An official of the CBN, who spoke unofficially on the matter, said, “The CBN is a law abiding organisation that operates as an extension of the Executive arm of government.” This means the CBN might have shifted the responsibility of speaking on the issue of naira redesign to the Federal Government.

Asked if the Supreme Court order would truncate the CBN’s cashless policy, the official said “that is unlikely to happen since the policy has been in operation since 2012”. Reacting to the Supreme Court order, Uche Uwaleke of Nasarawa State University, advised the CBN “to comply with the ruling since it has come from the final court in the land. “Doing so will help revive economic activities and reduce the current difficulties being experienced by Nigerians on account of the policy.”

In the judgement delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the Supreme Court held that President Muhammadu Buhari breached the constitution in the way he issued directives for the naira redesign. Justice Agim stated,

“Let me consider the issue of the President’s disobedience of the 8-2-2023 interim order that the new and old versions of naira notes continue to circulate as legal tender until the determination of the pending application for interlocutory injunction.

It is not in dispute that the 1st defendant refused to obey the said order. “The President’s 16-2-2023 national broadcast reproduced here in pages 27- 31 demonstrates this disobedience. In disobedience of the order, he directed that only the old N200 naira notes be recirculated. Interestingly, there is nothing to show the implementation of even that directive. I agree with the 9th plaintiff that the 1st defendant is not entitled to be heard by this court when it has effused to respect the authority of this court and the authority of law from which the authority of the President and the government of Nigeria derives.

“The rule of law upon which our democratic governance is founded becomes illusory if the President of the country or any authority or person refuses to obey the orders of courts. The disobedience of orders of courts by the President in a constitutional democracy as ours is a sign of the failure of the constitution and that democratic governance has become a mere pretension and is now replaced by autocracy or dictatorship.”


The court also dismissed the preliminary objections by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, including those of Bayelsa and Edo states, noting that it had jurisdiction to entertain the suit. Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states had dragged the Federal Government to the apex court over the naira redesign policy and were later joined on February 15 by Cross River, Sokoto, Lagos, Ogun, Katsina, Ondo and Ekiti states. Nasarawa, Niger, Kano, Jigawa, Rivers and Abia states also joined the suit later. Rivers and Abia states had filed separate suits that were consolidated with the main one.

Meanwhile, Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has urged the Federal Government to immediately implement the Supreme Court’s judgment on the Central Bank’s naira policy. He maintained that the monetary policy hurriedly packaged by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had unleashed hardship on people. Akeredolu noted that the verdict had brought relief, adding that he would go to court against anybody that might want to hinder the implementation.

“As we enjoin the officials of the federal government who may be directly involved in putting into effect the spirit and the letter of the Supreme Court ruling to do so immediately, the Ondo State Government will not hesitate to proceed against persons and institutions whose activities impede its ability to discharge statutory obligations to the people,” he said in a statement. SC judgement: Nigerians jubilate, bankers prepare for ‘bashing’ amid CBN’s silence “As we enjoin the officials of the federal government who may be directly involved in putting into effect the spirit and the letter of the Supreme Court ruling to do so immediately, the Ondo State Government will not hesitate to proceed against persons and institutions whose activities impede its ability to discharge statutory obligations to the people,” he said in a statement.