Recently, the Supreme Court of Nigeria issued an interim order, blocking the Federal Government’s move to prohibit the use of older versions of the 200, 500, and 1,000 naira denominations. The prohibition was planned to go into effect on February 10, 2023. This judgement was delivered by a panel of seven justices, led by Justice John Okoro, in response to a motion ex-parte filed by the northern states of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara.
The states had requested an order of Interim Injunction, stating that the government’s strategy would result in a “terrifying situation that is practically certain to lead to chaos in the country.” Mr. A. I. Mustapha, SAN, counsel for the petitioners, noted that over 60% of the population does not have bank accounts, and those who have cannot access their money due to the policy. Moreover, he warned that unless the Supreme Court intervenes, the situation will devolve into anarchy because the majority of banks have already ceased operations.
Justice Okoro granted the application and issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Federal Government and commercial banks from discontinuing the usage of the older versions of the naira on February 10, 2023. The main case hearing has been postponed until February 15, 2023.
Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, defended the decision by claiming that the Supreme Court only halted the application of the deadline and had not yet decided the subject. He added that the supreme court issued the ruling to avoid the lawsuit’s subject matter from being reduced. Ozekhome noted that the Supreme Court’s ruling allows the old and new naira to be in the same position, and that any verdict reached by the Supreme Court will effect not only the three state governments who brought the Federal Government to court, but the entire country.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s decision to grant an interim injunction, delaying the Federal Government’s move to restrict the usage of previous versions of the naira, was made to avoid the situation from spiraling out of control. The trial has been postponed until February 15, 2023, and the Supreme Court’s ruling will have far-reaching implications on the entire nation.