What manner of President is this violating Supreme Court’s order with impunity?

Buhari 1

President Muhammadu Buhari

The unpalatable events happening in the country in the last few days has lent credence to the fact that Nigeria is in deed a ‘Banana Republic’ where the rule of law is trampled underfoot by the most powerful. What is happening in Nigeria over the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) inglorious Naira redesign policy is briefly captured in Eedris Abdulkareem’s 2004 song “Nigeria jagajaga, Everything scatter scatter, Poor man dey suffer suffer, Gbosa, gbosa.”

Right now, Nigeria is in deed ‘jagajaga.’ The Naira redesign policy has inflicted pains, anguish on Nigerians, yet, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, acting on the order of President Muhammadu Buhari, is not backing down. Despite the Supreme Court’s restraining order on the Federal Government to stay action and allow the N200, N500 and N1,000 notes to be in circulation pending the determination of the suit filed by some governors, the CBN insisted on its February 10 deadline.

From that date, banks, shopping malls and others refused to collect the old naira notes from Nigerians. Worst still, the new naira notes are not accessible. Several businesses, especially the small scale ones have folded up. Massive protests and violence erupted in the nation over the policy as Nigerians are hungry.

On Wednesday, the apex court re-emphasised that the old Naira notes should still be legal tender until the case is heard on 22 February. That is the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, the final arbiter.

Buhari, in a nationwide broadcast today (Thursday) insisted that only the N200 notes would be allowed to circulate till April 10, 2022, while the N500 and N1,000 notes ceased from being legal tender, yet, the Supreme Court had ruled otherwise.

The president said “to further ease the supply pressures, particularly to our citizens, I have given approval to the CBN that the old N200 bank notes be released back into circulation and that it should also be allowed to circulate as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes for 60 days from February 10, 2023, to April 10, 2023, when the old N200 notes cease to be legal tender.

“In line with Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007, all existing old N1000 and N500 notes remain redeemable at the CBN and designated points.”

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The president’s nationwide broadcast is a slap on the judiciary, a slap on the power of the apex court as final arbiter, a slap on Nigerians and a slap on the rule of law which he claims to be defending. The president has shown that he is above the law and will do whatever he wishes. What does it take Buhari to wait for just a week just to obey the apex’s court order? He has trampled the judiciary underfoot.

Reasons adduced by the president for inflicting pains on Nigerians are not tenable. He said he wanted to use this means to curb vote-buying in this coming elections and that the only way to do it was to change the currency to stifle the money in circulation. Does it mean that in every four years, the nation’s currency will be changed just to stop politicians from buying votes? A very thoughtless and senseless policy!

As Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike puts it when the APC’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu visited him in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, “I believe your party should make sure this election holds. You people are in power, ensure that this election holds. Nobody can solve the issue of corruption in two-three months. It is not possible. This thing is purely politically motivated.

“How can you people be in government at this time and the governor of a Central Bank disrespecting the Supreme Court? Where has it happened in any democracy? Governor of Central Bank thinking of whether to obey Supreme Court order? Where has it happened?

“I am not talking about Federal High Court order, not Court of Appeal, I am talking about Supreme Court. Supreme Court said do not do this and everybody is folding hand begging Central Bank to obey Supreme Court order. Which country has it ever happened? When the order of Supreme Court is not obeyed, what are you telling the poor people on the street?”

Can the president fight corruption within two or three months? Should he inflict pains and anguish on the masses simply because he wants to get at unscrupulous politicians? Should he violate the Supreme Court’s order because he wants to achieve and impose his self-will on the people? What manner of president is this?

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