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New naira: Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara file contempt proceeding against Malami, Emefiele

The Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara state governments have filed a contempt proceeding against the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, for failing to comply with the order of the Supreme Court suspending the ban on the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes.

A fresh proceeding was filed before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The three state governments had initially filed a suit against the Federal Government and the CBN on February 3 over the naira redesign policy.

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On February 15, during the last sitting on the matter, lawyer to Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states, Abdulhakeem Mustapha accused the Federal Government and its agencies of flouting the court order and insisting on the terminal date of the old notes.

Mustapha said his clients had since filed a notice of non-compliance with the order of the court and demanded that the court take action against the respondent (the AGF) to protect the dignity of the court.

“That order has been flouted by the government. We are talking of executive lawlessness here. We have filed an affidavit to that effect,” Mustapha said.

In the suit the AGF and Emefiele were warned about the consequences of their continued failure to comply with the apex court’s order on the currency policy.

The forms filed by the team of lawyers representing the three states, are now part of the applications awaiting the Supreme Court’s consideration as proceedings resume on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court had given an interim order to the CBN not to end the use of the old naira notes on February 10 in an ex-parte application by the three applicant states.

Many more states, including Katsina, Lagos, Cross River, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo and Sokoto have joined the governments of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara in the legal battle against the Federal Government.

While the governments of Edo and Bayelsa have joined the federal government as respondents in the suit.

According to findings, the two sets of Form 48, one directed at the AGF and the other at Emefiele, were issued by the Chief Registrar of the apex court following an application by the team of lawyers representing the three states.

The issuance of Form 48 on a party believed to have flouted an order of court is the first stage in the commencement of contempt proceedings.

The form which provides notice of the consequence of flouting the court order could be followed with the issuance of Form 49 if the defaulters fail to repent.

The Form 48 dated February 15 reads, “Take notice that unless you obey the direction contained in the attached Order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria delivered on 3rd day of February 2023, you will be guilty of contempt of Court and will be liable to be committed to prison.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday last week, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in a national broadcast had said the old N500 and N1,000 notes were no longer legal tender in the country, however extending the validity of the old N200 note for 60 days, till April 10, 2023.

Consequently, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai in a state broadcast also last Thursday, faulted the President on his directive to re-introduce just the old N200 banknote as part of measures to curb the cash crunch in the country.

El-Rufai, who said the old N1,000 and N500 are still legal tenders in his state, stated that the aim of the naira redesign is to scuttle the general elections in order to allow an interim government led by a retired army general.