Justice Eleojo Eneche of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court has barred the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), President Muhammadu Buhari, and 27 commercial banks from suspending or obstructing the currency redesign terminal date of February 10 or issuing any instructions in violation of that date.
In a motion by four political parties – Action Alliance (AA); Action Peoples Party (APP); Allied Peoples Movement (APM); and National Rescue Movement (NRM) -the court also granted an order directing the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the banks to give justification for why they should not be arrested and prosecuted for sabotaging the nation’s finances by illegally hoarding the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes despite the central bank’s provision of such notes.
Last year, President Buhari gave his approval for the new banknotes. However, as the deadline for the currency switch approaches on February 10th, Nigerians are having difficulty obtaining the new notes.
The CBN insisted it would not extend the deadline following the naira swap issue.
The recent CBN policy has been met with conflicting reactions. While some people have praised the central bank’s decision, many others have criticized it as being insensitive to the average Nigerian.
On one side, some of the directive’s detractors have charged the central bank with misleading President Buhari.
For instance, Adams Oshiomhole, a former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), criticized the policy, calling it absurd and a scheme by the apex bank to sabotage the general elections.
He claims that the CBN persuaded the President to support the strategy by selling him an anti-corruption justification.
On the other hand, some people, including the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and the Labour Party, Peter Obi, have shown support for the CBN despite the policy being advertised as being directed against corrupt politicians and hoarders of illicit funds.