SERAP sues Buhari over ban on old N500, N1,000 notes

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over “the unlawful directive banning the use of old N500 and N1,000 banknotes, contrary to the interim injunction granted by the Supreme Court that the old N200, N500, and N1000 notes remain legal tender.”

Joined in the suit as defendants are the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The PUNCH reports that the Supreme Court in a case initially brought by 10 states recently held that the old banknotes remain legal tender pending the determination of a motion on notice fixed for February 22. The deadline for the swap of the old notes expired February 10.

However, Buhari in a national broadcast on Thursday directed the CBN to recirculate only the old N200 banknotes, banning the use of old N500 and N1,000 notes in the country.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/233/2023 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is asking the court to determine “whether Buhari’s directive banning the N500 and N1,000 banknotes is not inconsistent and incompatible with the constitutional duties to obey decisions of the Supreme Court and oath of office.”

SERAP is asking the court for “a declaration that Buhari’s directive banning the use of old N500 and N1,000 banknotes is a fundamental breach of section 287(1) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and his constitutional oath of office, and therefore unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void.”

It also seeks an order of interim injunction restraining Buhari, the CBN and Malami, their agents or privies, from further enforcing the presidential directive banning the old N500 and N1,000 banknotes, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed in its suit.

Court to void Buhari’s directive
The suit was filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, and Kolawole Oluwadare.

SERAP is also asking the court for the following reliefs:

A declaration that by virtue of section 287(1) of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999, Buhari, the CBN and Malami have a constitutional duty to obey and enforce any decisions and orders of the Supreme Court, particularly the order allowing the use of old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes;

An order restraining and stopping the CBN from carrying out and giving effect to the directive of the President directing and approving that the old N500 and N1,000 banknotes are no longer legal tender and the old N200 banknote will cease to be legal tender on April10, 2023, in compliance with the order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria made on February 8, 2023 in the Suit Number SC/CV/162/2023 – Attorney General of Kaduna State & two Ors v. Attorney General of the Federation;

And an order for the CBN to direct all commercial banks in Nigeria to accept and give out the old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes as legal tender concurrently along with the new banknotes of the same denomination in line with the order of the Supreme Court.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.


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