Rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has lambasted the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for allegedly flouting the interim injunction of the Supreme Court suspending the implementation of the February 10 deadline on the use of the old banknotes.
The CBN had moved the deadline earlier set for the expiration of the legal tender status of the old notes from January 31 to February 10 after the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, met with President Muhammadu Buhari .
Nigerians have been groaning under the pain caused by the deadline as they are unable to get the new notes, while the old notes are being sold to them by Point of Sales vendors.
The Supreme Court, however, granted an interim injunction on February 8 restraining the CBN and the Federal Government from implementing the February 10 deadline.
But Falana, during a live appearance on Channels TV’s The 2023 Verdict on Tuesday, said the government was not ready to comply with the order. “In a country where the rule of law operates, once the Supreme Court has determined a matter or given an order, it is expected that all and sundry – everybody – will comply with the order,” Falana said.
He added that a statement credited to the CBN that it would not comply with the order of the apex court because it was not a party to the case could only be tenable in a “banana republic”.
“[A] statement was credited to the central bank that since it was not a party to the case, it’s not going to comply with the order. I thought that could only happen in a banana republic.
“I expected the central bank to have issued a statement following the order of the Supreme Court: ‘all actions are stale until the 15th of February’,” he said.
The SAN added that an example should be made of those flouting court orders, stressing that nobody should feel that they were above the law.
“For me, an example has to be made this time around, so that nobody will feel that he’s above the law in our country,” he added.
The CBN has insisted on the February 10 deadline for the expiration of the legal tender status of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes.