The Supreme Court has ordered that the old N200, N500, N1000 notes should continue to co-exist with the new notes till further notice while ruling on an application brought before it by the federal government.
The apex court ruled that both old and new notes should continue to remain legal tender until the Federal Government put a process in place for its replacement or redesign after due consultation with relevant stakeholders.
The federal government had filed an application before the supreme court seeking an extension for old naira notes to remain in circulation. In March 2023, the supreme court had extended the deadline to phase out the old naira notes to December 31, 2023.
However in the fresh application by the federal government, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Lateef Fagbemi said that due to the economic crisis, it has not been able to print the volume of new notes that would enable it phase out old currency before December 31.
According to the AGF, “since the said consequential order was made, the federal government, in compliance with this honourable court’s order, directed the CBN to engage and has been engaging the respondents in their individual capacities and in their capacities as members of the National Council of State and National Economic Council with respect to the Naira redesign policy”.
“In between the time the order was made and now, there was a presidential election in the country which has led to a transition from the immediate-past government and the incumbent government which is just settling down,” he said.
“The incumbent government has, however, directed the Central Bank to come up, by a way of policy direction, with how the naira redesign policy will be addressed in full compliance with the order of this honourable court.
“Whilst working on the policy direction and due to the economic crisis being witnessed by the government of the federation and other factors beyond its control, the government of the federation to date has not been able to print the new 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes in the equal proportion of the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes sought to be recalled as consultation with critical stakeholders is still on-going on how best to approach the redesign policy.
“People have been hoarding the new notes on the speculation that the 31 December deadline for the old notes to cease to be legal tender may not be met.
“To effectively stabilise the economy, the federal government is of the strong view that the old versions of 200, 500 and 1,000 notes should continue to be legal tender alongside the new versions.
“Following the deadline for the validity of the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes ordered by this honourable court will make the government of the federation to push the country into another national, economic and financial crisis which this honourable court sought to prevent in the first instance by its judgment in the afore-mentioned suit.
“The only way to save the nation from both of the above situations is by the order of this honourable court to grant the prayers in this application.”
The supreme court had fixed November 30 (today) to hear the application.
With this Supreme Court ruling, all existing Naira notes remain legal tender indefinitely as earlier announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria on November 14, 2023.