A lawyer, Joshua Alobo, has approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, praying the court to stop the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, from insisting on the January 31 deadline for using the old naira notes.
Mr Alobo, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/114/2023, also prayed the court to make an order extending the duration when the old notes would cease to be legal tender for a period of three weeks.
He said this was to give time for when commercial banks would have enough new notes to dispense.
In an affidavit deposed to by one Musa Damudi, the plaintiff told the court that the CBN governor had on October 26, 2022, announced that the apex bank would introduce new series of redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes into the financial system.
He said that the decision, though a welcome one, was causing anxiety among Nigerians, especially the less privileged ones as they were yet to have access to the new naira notes.
He said that although the new notes, which were unveiled on November 23, 2022, by President Muhammadu Buhari to curb inflation and entrench a cashless society so as to curb money laundering and corruption, its unavailability was causing apprehension among Nigerians.
He accused the commercial banks of failing to make the new notes available to their customers, adding that as of January 25, he was still handed the old notes on the counter and through the Automatic Teller Machine, ATM.
He decried the situation where some shopping malls within the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, had announced that they were rejecting the old notes, with the ATM limiting daily withdrawal to N20,000.
The law professor argued that the January 31 deadline for using the old notes was discriminatory against the rural dwellers, poor and less privileged persons in the society.
“This is as politically exposed persons are paid with the redesigned notes.
“The cashless policy of the CBN is innovative and a welcome development but the rural dwellers that constitute the bulk of the population do not have access to internet and banking facilities.
“The current daily limit of transaction to N20,000 is against the Central Bank daily limit of N100,000.
“The applicant was shocked when he was paid with mint of the old note with serial Nos 435641, 435642, 43643, 435636, 435638, 435639.
“It is hereby marked exhibit ‘A’ and ‘B,” he averred.
The plaintiff, in his written address in support of the suit, submitted that the matter was germane to the economic stability and prosperity of less-privileged persons in the country.
He argued that such persons may not have the necessary connections to commercial banks unlike politically exposed persons who had the financial muscle to deposit their old notes.
“We concede that the policy of redesigning the currency is within the powers of the CBN, especially with the approval and endorsement of the President.
“We respectfully submit that the January 31 deadline for phasing out the old naira notes is of grave constitutional importance for the economic survival of the vast population that constitute the entity called Nigeria.
“The percentage of persons with lower educational background and economic realities of rural dwellers and some local governments in Nigeria without a single bank is high,” he argued.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that listed as 1st to 3rd defendants in the suit are the CBN, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN.
No date has, however, been fixed for hearing of the matter.