An Abuja-based lawyer, Realwan Okpanachi, has taken a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari for preempting the decision of the Supreme Court on the lifespan of Nigeria’s old Naira notes,leadership report.
Okpanachi, who made this known in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Saturday, said the President’s action was not only contemptuous, but a show of lack of respect for the rule of law and the authority of Nigeria’s Supreme Court.
According to him, the President’s decision must be condemned and denounced by every believer of the rule of law and constitutional democracy.
He also described the action of the President as nothing but a gross indictment on the person and office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
The lawyer said, “To my mind, it is either Mr. President was ill-advised by the Attorney General on the implication of the Supreme Court’s interim order or Mr President was properly advised but refused to have any iota of confidence in the advice of the Attorney General.
“Whichever that is the case, it is tantamount to a colossal indictment on the person and office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
“Consequently, it is my advice that, the Attorney-General should consider resigning his office with immediate effect.”
On the action of some state governors who are closing down shops and banks that refuse to accept old notes despite the subsistence of the Supreme Court’s order, Okpanachi said their actions were absolutely justified.
He explained that it was the governors’ constitutional responsibility or duty to enforce judgments and/or orders of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“By the provisions of Section 287 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), decisions of the Supreme Court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by Courts with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Supreme court.
“Consequently, the states and their governors, being the authorities and persons envisaged by Section 287(1) of the Constitution, are entitled to enforce the interim Order of the Supreme Court.
“This is particularly because of the security challenges they are now being confronted with as a result of the policy/decision of the CBN, subject of the interim order, particularly, that, they are the chief security officers of their respective states,” Okpanachi said.
The lawyer further stressed that by virtue of the Supreme Court’s order, all commercial banks in Nigeria were bound to continue to accept the deposits and withdrawals of the old notes, particularly that, they were specifically mentioned in the order.
“It must be stated that, the commercial banks cannot be heard to give any excuse that their refusal to accept deposit and withdrawal of old notes is premised on the instruction of the CBN, their regulatory authority.
“Both the CBN and the commercial banks are bound by the Supreme Court’s order. Hence, the action of the commercial banks is nothing but a grave violation of the Supreme Court’s order and is contemptuous,” Okpanachi added.
It would be recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently redesigned the nation’s currencies and gave February 10, as the deadline for the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes to cease being legal tenders.
The Supreme Court, while ruling on Wednesday, in a suit instituted by the Attorneys General of Kogi, Zamfara and Kaduna States against the Federal Government and CBN, had restrained the defendants from implementing the policy, pending the determination of the suit.
However, Buhari in a presidential address on Wednesday, extended the lifespan of old N200 note by sixty days beginning from February 10, and directed that only the old N500 and N1000 Naira notes would cease to be legal tenders, notwithstanding the subsistence of the apex court’s interim order or injunction.