CSOs Reject S’Court Ruling on CBN Naira Redesign Policy

* Ruling could derail 2023 polls, says ACJHR

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja 

A coalition of all civil society groups in Nigeria, the Civil Society Central Coordinating Council, has rejected the exparte order made by the Supreme Court on Wednesday restraining the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and President Muhammadu Buhari from terminating the use of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 bank notes on February 10.

The groups therefore called on President Buhari to immediately consider issuing executive orders to bring to effect the policy terminal date as the apex court order did not restrain the exercise of the constitutional powers of the president.

The National Coordinator of the CSCCC, Obed Okwukwe, stated this at a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday. 

The council said its rejection of the order was because it was an attack on credible elections.

It called on the Supreme Court not to yield its platform for such election riggers to have access to illicit cash to compromise the election.

The CSCCC also called on the apex court to immediately vacate the order because the pronouncement would aid corrupt politicians to buy votes during the forthcoming polls. 

It argued that it was “capable of derailing the credibility of the 2023 general election and ultimately truncate our most cherished democracy”.

Meanwhile, a civil society organisation, the African Center for Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR), has warned that the apex court exparte order temporarily halting the move by the federal government to ban the use of the old naira notes from February 10, 2023, could derail the credibility of the February election if not vacated.

The group expressed the fear in a statement by its strategic communication consultant, Comrade Abubakar Isa, and made available to THISDAY in Abuja on Wednesday. 

It lamented that despite President Buhari’s resolve for credible polls and peaceful transition, some vested interests and greedy politicians are hell bent on ensuring this doesn’t come to pass.

The group urged the CBN to file urgent preliminary objection on jurisdiction ground so that the apex court can vacate this order.

The CSCCC said: “The Supreme Court must redeem its image immediately and show Nigerians that it is not deliberately against free, fair and credible elections bearing in mind some very controversial orders and judgments of the court in the recent past.

“Nigerian civil society groups are to fully support both policies and it is on that strength that I have been empowered to inform Nigerians that the Nigerian civil society community has passed a vote of confidence on the Naira Redesign Policy and the cash withdrawal limit policy. 

“This vote of confidence is also on the condition that the 10th February deadline is not shifted.

“It is based on the foregoing that we alert the security agencies that the protests planned to be held tomorrow, Thursday 9th February, 2023 guised as protests against scarcity of the new naira are indeed protests planned and organized to cause violence, destruction of public property, disruption of public order and arson. 

“Quell the protests in the South-west as it is part of the synchronized plot. The target is to reverse the policy where that fails force a shift in the election date or lead to uprising that will cause the administration to come to an abrupt end. 

“Opponents of the currency redesign and cash withdrawal limit policies deadline are pushing for a shift of the February 23 general election.

“We have credible intelligence that those behind the campaign for shift in the deadline of the new currency redesign and cash withdrawal limit are now pushing that the 2023 general election be shifted. 

“This evil idea will throw Nigeria into a constitutional crisis and lead to the collapse of constitutional democracy. Now these anarchists realizing they cannot win the general election are now looking for ways to destroy democracy and undermine President Buhari.

“These men who have benefited from President Buhari now want to destabilize and hurt our dear president and our democracy in their selfish bid of running errands for their new godfather in town. 

“They have forgotten that without President Buhari some of them would not have legally or illegally made it to office they now occupy, now President Buhari looks small in their eyes and even without Buhari tenure expiring, these ungrateful power elements and characters are instigating people to destroy President Buhari and our hard won democracy for the sake of their new master. 

“What offence has President Buhari committed by saying he wants credible election? Were these people not beneficiaries of credible election in 2015? 

“So why crucify our president who is committed to giving Nigeria enabling environment for free and fair election.

“We wish to state it clearly again, Nigerians will not accept any shift in the 2023 general election date and also any shift in the deadline for the currency redesign policy.

“Let these men use this time they are wasting in attacking President Buhari and his good policy to go and put their billions back to the bank or even let them open the cash warehouses containing those billions in Lagos, Kano, Imo, Zamfara, Kogi and share those billions to poor masses since they are now new lovers of the poor.

“If those who want cash limit removed and new currency redesign policy shifted love us and the suffering poor masses, let them use these few days before the end of the deadline to open their bullion vans and share the money to the poor masses now instead of looking for how to use it during election to corrupt the electoral process. 

“Share the money to the masses because Buhari and CBN are not giving you any deadline shift, share it before it becomes a used tissue paper.

“Therefore  we also call on President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to stand up to these people and defy them. 

“Insist over and over again that the February 10 deadline date is sacrosanct, irreversible and irrevocable.”

The ACJHR’s statement also read in part: “Just two days ago, we hailed the High Court order restraining the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele and 27 listed commercial banks from suspending, stopping, extending or interfering with the currency redesign terminal date of February 10th. 

“This order of the court, which we thought has rendered futile all behind the scene efforts especially by governors of some states to force the hand of the president to reverse the policy is being overruled by the Supreme Court.

“The behaviour of Justices of the Supreme Court lately is quite questionable. One wonders if the judiciary is actually the last hope of the common man or last hope of the elite. 

“We urge the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to file urgent preliminary objection on jurisdiction ground so that the apex court can vacate this order.”

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