The Supreme Court has fixed Feb.22 for the hearing of the suits filed by some State Governors against the Federal Government over the cashless policy by the CBN in old Naira note withdrawal.
Justice Inyang Okoro fixed the date after directing all parties involved to amend their processes to reflect the new position of their respective cases.
Meanwhile, Edo and Bayelsa States have pitched their tents with the federal government.
Edo and Bayelsa state counsels told the panel of seven-man Justices of the apex court that they are in support of the cashless policy regime and sought to be joined as respondents.
However, Six other states, Lagos, Cross River, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo and Sokoto joined their counterparts, Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara in the legal battle against the Federal Government.
The six states in their respective motions for joinder pitched their tents with the three aggrieved states that initially ignited the legal battle.
Their joinder motion was moved by Mr Samuel Ologunorisa SAN and was granted by Justice Okoro who presided over the matter.
The Court directed the plaintiffs to amend their originating summons to reflect the name of the six fresh plaintiffs.
In another drama, Rivers State has filed a separate suit against the Federal Government on the same matter.
Rivers, through its counsel, Mr Emmanuel Ukala SAN stood its ground not to team up with other states adding that it would prefer to do its case separately.
The Supreme Court had on Wednesday temporarily stopped the withdrawal of old Naira Notes from Feb. 10.
A seven-member panel led by Justice John Okoro, halted the move in a ruling in an exparte application brought by three northern states of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara.
The three states had specifically applied for an order of Interim Injunction restraining “the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on Feb. 10, the time frame with which the now older version of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denomination of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for interlocutory injunction”.
Delivering ruling in the motion, Okoro, held that “after careful consideration of the motion exparte this application is granted as prayed.”
“An order of Interim Injunction restraining the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on Feb. 10,, the time frame with which the now older version of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denomination of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for interlocutory injunction”.
He accordingly adjourned until Feb. 15, for hearing of the main suit.
Moving the application on Wednesday, counsel to the applicants, Mr A. I. Mustapha, SAN, urged the apex court to grant the application in the interest of justice and the well-being of Nigeria.
He stated that the policy of the government has led to an “excruciating situation that is almost leading to anarchy in the land “.
While he referred to Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) statistics which put the number of people who don’t have bank accounts at over 60 percent, Mustapha lamented that the few Nigerians with bank accounts can’t even access their monies from the bank as a result of the policy.
The senior lawyer further argued that unless the Supreme Court intervenes the situation will lead to anarchy because most banks are already closing operations.
Meanwhile, many business operators in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other states have started rejecting the old Naira notes in spite of Supreme Court order temporarily halting the ban on their use.
BRANDPOWER reports that following the redesigning of N200, N500 and N1000 notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), Jan. 31 was announced as deadline for use of the old notes.
The Jan. 31 deadline was, however, met with outrage from Nigerians, forcing the apex bank to extend the deadline to Feb. 10 after which the notes would seize to be legal tender.
Meanwhile, governors of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara approached the Supreme Court on Feb. 3, requesting that the extention should be beyond Feb. 10 as announced by the CBN.
BRANDPOWER reports that the CBN has alleged that the Naira notes are being hoarded by unscrupulous persons with the intention to cause the present chaos.