An Abuja-based lawyer, Realwan Okpanachi, has taken a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari for forestalling the Supreme Court’s decision on the lifespan of Nigeria’s old naira banknotes.
Okpanachi, who made the announcement in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Saturday, said the president’s actions were not only contemptuous but a show of disrespect for the rule of law and the authority of Nigeria’s Supreme Court.
According to him, the President’s decision must be condemned and denounced by every supporter of the rule of law and constitutional democracy.
He also described the President’s actions as a gross indictment against the person and office of the Attorney General (AGF).
The attorney said: “In my opinion, either Mr. President was ill-advised by the Attorney General regarding the implications of the Supreme Court injunction, or Mr. President was properly advised but refused to have even one iota of trust in the Council.” the Attorney General.
“Anyway, it amounts to a colossal indictment against the person and office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
“Consequently, it is my advice that the Attorney General should consider resigning from office effective immediately.”
Regarding the actions of some state governors who are closing businesses and banks that refuse to accept old bills, despite the Supreme Court order standing, Okpanachi said their actions are fully justified.
He stated that it is the governors’ constitutional responsibility or duty to enforce judgments and/or orders of the Nigerian Supreme Court.
“By the provisions of Section 287(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), decisions of the Supreme Court in each part of the Federation are enforced by all authorities and persons and by courts under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
“Consequently, the states and their governors, as the authorities and persons provided for in Section 287 § 1 of the Constitution, have the authority to enforce the Supreme Court’s injunction.
“This is particularly due to the security challenges they now face due to the CBN’s policy/decision that is the subject of the injunction, specifically that they are the top security officers of their respective states,” Okpanachi said.
The lawyer further emphasized that all commercial banks in Nigeria are obliged to continue accepting deposits and withdrawals of the old banknotes due to the Supreme Court decision, specifically that they are specifically mentioned in the decision.
“It must be stated that the commercial banks cannot be made to offer an excuse that their refusal to accept deposits and withdrawals of old banknotes is based on instructions from the CBN, their regulator.
“Both the CBN and commercial banks are bound by the Supreme Court order. Therefore, what the commercial banks did is nothing but a gross violation of the Supreme Court order and is contemptible,” Okpanachi added.
It is worth remembering that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently redesigned the country’s currencies, setting February 10 as the deadline for ending legal tender of the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in a lawsuit brought by the Attorneys General of Kogi, Zamfara and Kaduna States against the federal government and CBN, preventing the defendants from implementing the policy until the lawsuit is decided.
However, in a presidential address on Wednesday, Buhari extended the lifespan of old N200 notes by sixty days from February 10, and instructed that only the old N500 and N1000 naira notes would cease to be legal tender, regardless the continued existence of the banknotes of the supreme court interim order or injunction.