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Naira redesign: El-Rufai, Bello, Matawalle drag Buhari, Malami to Supreme Court

.Court stops CBN, President from extending deadline on old naira notes  .EFCC arrests Abuja bank manager for hoarding N29m new notes .Residents cry out as cash crunch bites harder in Enugu .Fresh protest rocks Ibadan over scarcity of fuel, naira notes .Crises take shine off 44th Kaduna International Trade Fair

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Chigozie Ikpo, Abuja with agency report


The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state, have filed a suit asking the Supreme Court to restrain the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from implementing the naira redesign policy.

The three states filed the action through their Attorneys-General who averred that both the old and the new Naira notes were scarce, thereby affecting people, especially the poor.

The suit marked, SC/CV/162/2023, dated and filed on February 3 was instituted by the three Attorneys-General and Commissioners for Justice while the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami (SAN) is the sole Respondent.

Filing an ex-parte motion through their lawyer, Mr AbdulHakeem Uthman Mustapha (SAN), the states are urging the Supreme Court to grant them an interim injunction, stopping the Federal Government either by itself or acting through the CBN, the commercial banks or its agents from carrying out its plan of ending the timeframe within which the now older versions of the 200, 500 and 1000 denominations of the Naira may no longer be legal tender on February 10, 2023.

“Unless this Honourable Court intervenes, the Government and people of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara State will continue to go through a lot of hardship and would ultimately suffer great loss as a result of the insufficient and unreasonable time within which the Federal Government is embarking on the ongoing currency redesign policy,” Mustapha averred.

The states said there had been a shortage in the supply of the new naira notes in Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara States and that citizens who had dutifully deposited their old naira notes had increasingly found it difficult and sometimes next to impossible to access new naira notes to go about their daily activities and transactions.

The states said the CBN policy was imposing a lot of hardship on Nigerians and insisted that the 10-day extension by the Federal Government was still insufficient to address the challenges of swapping their old Naira notes for new ones.

“That the majority of the indigenes of the Plaintiffs’ states who reside in the rural areas have been unable to exchange or deposit their old naira notes as there are no banks in the rural areas where the majority of the population of the states reside.

“Most people in rural areas of the Plaintiffs’ states do not have bank accounts and have so far been unable to deposit their life savings which are still in the old naira notes.

“There is restiveness amongst the people in the various states because of the hardship being suffered by the people, and the situation will sooner than later degenerate into the breakdown of law and order.

“The Plaintiff State Governments cannot stand by as they are duty-bound to protect citizens in their states and prevent the breakdown of law and order.

“I know that if the Federal Government of Nigeria had given sufficient and reasonable time for the naira redesign policy, all the current hardship and loss being experienced by the Plaintiffs’ state governments as well as people in the various states would have been avoided,” the three states stated. No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.

Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court at Wuse Zone 2, Abuja, has ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure the enforcement of its 10 February deadline on the validity of the old naira notes.

The judge, Eleojo Enenche, gave the order on Monday in a ruling on an ex parte application by four opposition political parties.

The four parties – Action Alliance (AA), Action Peoples Party (APP), Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and National Rescue Movement (NRM) – in their application alleged that the CBN’s new monetary policy was being sabotaged by Nigerian banks.

They sued President Muhammadu Buhari, the CBN and the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, along with 25 Nigerian banks as defendants.

In a public announcement last week, the CBN governor, Mr Emefiele, extended the deadline for legal tender status of the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes from 31 January to 10 February.

The extension followed a public outcry that greeted the scarcity of the new naira banknotes. The CBN governor announced the extension after meeting with President Buhari, and directed banks to receive the old bank notes even after the deadline.

Ruling on the opposition parties’ ex parte application on Monday, the judge issued an order restraining the CBN “from suspending or interfering with the currency redesign” deadline of 10 February.

The court also ordered the defendant “not to suspend, stop, extend, vary or interfere with the extant termination date of use of the old N200, N500, and N1,000 bank notes being 10 February, 2013 pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice.”

.EFCC arrests Abuja bank manager for hoarding N29m new notes

Also, a senior bank official was on Monday in Abuja arrested by the l Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC).

The staff is the Operations Manager of “a leading commercial bank” in the Central Area, disclosed Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC spokesman.

The manager refused to load the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), despite having N29million of the redesigned Naira notes in the branch’s vaults.

Uwujaren said before he was whisked away for further questioning, the operatives ordered the loading of all the ATMs.

The EFCC also ensured payment across the counter to the delight of the customers who had spent hours on queues without getting the new notes.

The anti-corruption agency stated that the latest discovery indicated “a sabotage of the government’s monetary policy by some banks”, adding that operatives covered more than five bank branches today in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The operation was in continuation of the surveillance and visit to banks across the country to access their vaults and verify whether they are deliberately refusing to dispense cash.

The EFCC said it would continue the raid until normalcy was restored to the banking system, urging Nigerians finding it difficult to access funds at any bank and suspects foul play to contact the Commission.

Earlier on Monday, financial institutions denied hoarding the new Naira notes, saying they could not be a clog in the wheel of efforts of the Federal Government and the CBN.

.Residents cry out as cash crunch bites harder in Enugu

Many residents of Enugu metropolis have decried difficulty in getting cash for their daily usage, saying that it has negatively affected socio-economic activities in the area.

The residents, who spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Monday, appealed to the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) to urgently look into naira notes scarcity and provide solutions.

The residents said that both the old and the new naira notes were scarce, hindering their businesses and making it difficult for them to meet basic family needs.

A businessman, Mr. Onyechi Okechukwu, told NAN that he had not been able to access cash to buy food for his family.

Okechukwu said that his efforts to withdraw money over-the-counter from commercial banks failed as the banks told him that they did not have cash.

He said that the cash scarcity had put much pressure on the average Nigerian, urging that it should not continue.

Another resident of the area, who preferred anonymity, accused bank workers of hoarding new naira notes, urging CBN to intensify monitoring.

She regretted that Point-of-Sale (POS) operators were taking advantage of the situation to extort the masses.

“POS operators now charge 20 per cent of every amount you want to take. It is outrageous. Nigerians do not deserve the suffering.

“The question now is not whether you have money in your account but if you can withdraw the money. It is really very unfortunate,’’ she said.

A civil servant, Mrs. Joy Eze, described civil servants in the state as the worst hit by the situation.

She said that they could not access their salaries and could not afford transport fares to their workplaces.

.Fresh protest rocks Ibadan over scarcity of fuel, naira notes

Some concerned Nigerians on Monday took to major roads in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, protesting against the lingering scarcity of fuel and new naira notes.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protesters, who had earlier assembled at the main gate of the University of Ibadan, later took the protest round major roads in Ibadan.

NAN reports that heavily armed security agents comprising army, police and men of Amotekun Corps, were strategically positioned at the main Gate of the university to forestall a breakdown of law and order.

Also, the security agents were seen controlling traffic, directing motorists and advising them to remove the green leaves hung on their vehicles, motorcycles and tricycles as a sign of solidarity with the protesters.

The protesters, who were mainly human rights activists and pro-democracy campaigners, claimed that they were protesting against untold hardship Nigerians were being subjected to.

The protesters, also claimed that they were expressing their dissatisfactions over the lingering scarcity of the new naira notes and petroleum in the country.

They blocked the university’s gate, leading to heavy traffic on the Sango-Ojoo Road and Bodija-Ojo Road for some hours, after which they were dispatched by security personnel and then moved toward Sango, Mokola and Bodija areas of the city.

There was heavy presence of combined security agencies guarding the protesters to prevent a breakdown of law and order.

The security operatives were also seen at different points on major routes in Ibadan metropolis warding off those suspected to have evil intentions from highjacking the protest.

One of the leaders of the protesters, Solomon Emiola, said that Nigerians resulted to the protest to express their displeasures over the untold hardship they have been subjected to.

Emiola said: “We are here as Nigerians to kick against the oppression from the CBN Governor.

“For some weeks now, Nigerians have been crying and dying as they were unable to access their hard earned sweat in banks.

“I am a victim. I have my money in the bank, but I cannot collect my money. I am hungry and I cannot eat. There is difficulty in using USSD code for transactions.

“With the scarcity, we cannot afford to buy fuel at N350 and N400 per litre.”

Another protester, who pleaded anonymity, said he trekked from Apete to UI Gate on an empty stomach to join in the protest, adding that he was unable to provide for his household.

“There is no greenlight as to how I will eat and fend for my family, because people who want to patronise my business are out of cash.

“I live on daily income, but I do not make any sale as people are not buying things nor need my services,” he said.

.Crises take shine off 44th Kaduna International Trade Fair


Inadequate publicity, Naira re-design and fuel scarcity, have combined to take the shine off the ongoing 44th Kaduna International Trade Fair.

Correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who visited the venue of the fair, report that the popular annual Trade Fair, known for its hosting of national and international participants, has lost its bubble.

Some stakeholders interviewed by NAN said the intractable security problem afflicting the Northwest states, was the first challenge that started affecting the Fair some years back.

“The security challenges started it all, and after dealing a heavy blow on the event for some years running, Naira re-design and fuel scarcity have joined the fray this year.

“Honestly, the International event this year, is a shadow of its former self; people are struggling at fuel stations, ATM points and PoS centres, therefore, visiting Trade Fair Complex is not a priority.

“Come to look at it, where is the fuel to use in the car to get to the venue? Or worst still, where is the money to make purchases at the Fair?” remarked a stakeholder who did not want his name mentioned.

Speaking to NAN on challenges faced, the Director-General, Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KADCCIMA), Dr Usman Saulawa, confirmed some of the hiccups.

He said that the new Naira Notes policy and perennial fuel scarcity had contributed to low turn-out of participants.

“The re-design of Naira has, in no small measure, affected this year’s Trade Fair, most especially those that wanted to come, construct their stands, exhibit and make on the spot sales.

“To a very great extent, the Trade Fair is also being affected by fuel scarcity, making it extremely difficult for both visitors and exhibitors to attend; this has left us with only few exhibitors and visitors”, he lamented.

Meanwhile, some of the traders and exhibitors at the Fair are also lamenting the low turn-out, saying the development has resulted in poor patronage of their wares because customers were coming in ‘trickles’.

Mr. Bright Tony who came all the way from Lagos, said participants were not much, just as he noted that customers were less, attributing the development to Naira re-design and fuel scarcity.

“Anybody that wants to buy cannot access new Naira Notes easily; even if they want to transfer electronically, the network is not reliable, so it is affecting us negatively.

“Fuel scarcity is another thing affecting the business seriously; I spent thrice, the amount I budgeted for logistics; I pray I do not incur heavy losses this year”, he fumed.

Mrs. Rukayya Abdulrazak, a kitchen ware vendor, said scarcity of cash had affected them, saying people were nt coming due to hike in transport fare as a result of fuel scarcity.

On her part, Mrs. Mary Oyedoko, said she hoped customers would come by Monday, even though there had been serious challenges transferring money electronically, due to bad network.

Also, Mr. Samuel Okpole from Siperco Nigeria Ltd, said he could not come early to the Fair venue due to fuel scarcity, saying he came all the way from Lagos to create awareness about the brand of his product.

“As I speak with you now, I do not have one Naira in my pocket; I have money budgeted for this exhibition in the banks; neither the PoS nor banks are willing to give cash.

” I do not have even N100 to buy bottle water because the people selling water do not have PoS, and have refused to accept transfer”, he lamented.

NAN reports that the Fair, which is the 44th edition, kicked-off on Feb.3rd, and will last for 10 days.

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