Supreme Court judgement on old naira notes directed at FG, not me: Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the judgement of the Supreme Court ordering that the old notes remained a “legal tender” was a verdict binding only on the Federal government and not him. 

“The negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators is unfair and unjust, as no court order at any level has been issued or directed at him,” Mr Buhari said in an excerpt of a statement issued by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, on Monday evening. 

Mr Buhari’s reaction is coming amidst a flurry of reactions and stark criticisms over the scarcity of the new naira currency following the redesigned policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and especially the rejection of the old notes by traders in the country. 

Recall that the apex court, on March 3, ruled that the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes remain in circulation till December 31, 2023.

Justice Emmanuel Agim, who read the lead judgement of the apex court, nullified the FG’s naira redesign policy, declaring it as an affront to the 1999 constitution. 

Mr Agim held that the unconstitutional use of powers by Mr Buhari on the Naira Re-designing was breach of the fundamental human rights of the Nigerian citizens. 

But Mr Buhari, who authorised the CBN’s controversial new naira banknotes policy, has deflected blame for wreaking havoc on lives and livelihoods in Africa’s most populous nation. 

At least 16 State governors had dragged the FG to the apex court over the economic and social chaos resulting from the introduction of new banknotes and the withdrawal of the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes.  

The 16 states led by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara prayed the apex court to void and set aside the policy on the ground that it is inflicting hardships on innocent Nigerians.

They accused Mr Buhari of usurping the function of the CBN in the introduction and implementation of the policy and asked that the directive issued by Buhari be voided.

To date, commercial banks have continued to reject deposits of the so-called old notes even though they issue them to customers.

But positing further in the statement, Mr Buhari said it was unfair to blame him for the current scarcity of the naira notes despite the ruling of the Supreme court ordering the continuous spending of the old notes.

He, although, noted that the “cashless policy” was expected to put an end to corruption and fight terrorism that has mostly ravaged his government for the past seven years. 

“As for the cashless system the CBN is determined to put in place, it is a known fact that many of the country’s citizens who bear the brunt of the sufferings, surprisingly support the policy as they believe that the action would cut corruption, fight terrorism, build an environment of honesty and reinforce the incorruptible leadership of the President. 

“It is therefore wide off the mark to blame the President for the current controversy over the cash scarcity, despite the Supreme Court judgement. The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President,” he added in the statement. 

He said, “President Buhari has also rejected the impression that he lacks compassion, saying that “no government in our recent history has introduced policies to help economically marginalised and vulnerable groups like the present administration.”

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