The federal government has presented reasons before the Supreme Court on why the suit by three states challenging the February 10 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to end the use of old naira notes should be struck out.
The reasons were contained in a preliminary objection to the suit filed by filed Mr Mahmud Magaji and Tijanni Gazali, lawyers representing the Attorneys-General of the Federation (AGF), who is the sole respondent in the suit.
Among the major reason the federal government is its claim that the Supreme Court lacked the necessary jurisdiction to entertain the suit in the first place.
The AGF claimed that the suit ought to have been instituted before a Federal High Court and not the Supreme Court as done by the plaintiffs.
Besides, the respondent argued that “the plaintiffs have equally not shown reasonable cause of action” against it.
In the 11 grounds of objection to the suit, the respondent stated that the defendants are challenging the powers of the Federal Government of Nigeria through its agency the Central Bank of Nigeria to withdraw old banknotes and introduce new ones.
AGF further posited that the plaintiffs suit is about the powers vested on the CBN by the CBN’s 2007, Act to call in its banknotes and introduce new ones .
The respondent also submitted that the suit as presently constituted falls under Section 251(1)(a)(p)(q) & (r) of the Constitution (exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court) by virtue of the subject matter and parties.
While describing the instant suit as an abuse of judicial process, the AGF urged the apex court to strike out the suit in the interest of justice, adding that the plaintiffs will not be prejudiced if the preliminary objection is upheld.
“The plaintiffs have no grievance whatsoever against the Federation of Nigeria. This suit has disclosed no dispute that invokes this court’s original jurisdiction as constitutionally defined.
“This suit is an abuse of judicial process. The plaintiffs have no locus standi to institute this action. The plaintiffs have no reasonable cause of action against the defendant”, the respondent submitted.
Recall that a seven-member panel of the apex court presided by Justice John Okoro had on Wednesday temporarily halted the federal government from effecting the scheduled ban of old Naira Notes in 200, 500 and 1,000 denominations from February 10, 2023.
The order was issued during a ruling in an exparte application brought by Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara States against the Attorneys-General of the Federation.
They had asked the court to issue an interim injunction against the government pending the hearing and determination of their suit challenging the naira redesign policy of the CBN.
They had argued amongst others that the policy has brought excruciating situation upon the country and unless the Supreme Court intervenes timeously there may be anarchy in the country.
According to them, since the announcement of the policy, there has been an acute shortage in the supply of the new naira notes in their states, thereby making it very difficult and nearly impossible for citizens to access the new notes.
While they argued that the notice period given by the federal government was inadequate, they claimed that the CBN did not follow laid down procedure for implementation of the policy.
In a short ruling, the apex court granted the interim order and restrained the federal government from banning the old naira notes, pending the determination of the suit.
The Supreme Court subsequently fixed hearing for February 15, 2023.