Onyekachi Ubani, human rights lawyer, says President Muhammadu Buhari overruled the Supreme Court with his declaration on Thursday that old N500 and N1,000 notes are no longer tender.
The lawyer who is the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) spoke Thursday on Channels Television’s The 2023 Verdict
According to him, the President’s intervention should have been to allow the apex court to resolve the matter and not cut short the process.
“The President has actually overruled the Supreme Court decision. That is what I understand by what the President said this morning,” Ubani said.
The Senatorial candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the Federal Capital Territory, Ireti Kingibe, who was also a guest on the programme lauded the policy but faulted its implementation.
The President, in a national broadcast on Thursday morning, had directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days.
He, however, said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes are no longer legal tender in Nigeria.
Reacting on Channels Television’s special election programme, Ubani said the President should have waited and obeyed the Supreme Court order.
“There was an interim order which says you should hold on until the Supreme Court look at the grievances made by the state because unfortunately many other states are joining the suit, and the Supreme Court saw the wisdom in giving room for other parties to join so that there will proper parties before going ahead to look at the issues on its merit and that was why there was an adjournment yesterday (Wednesday).
“But unfortunately what the president has done this morning has actually ignored whatever is going on at the Supreme Court.
“When you say you will only allow old N200 to be in circulation, meaning that (old) N1000 and N500 notes are no longer legal tender,’ he said.
“My own understanding of what has taken place is that he has overruled the Supreme Court. He’s clearly not mindful of what is going on at the Supreme Court with what he has just done.”
Ubani, according to Channels TV, said the President has not set a proper precedent because the international community is watching and won’t have confidence in the country’s democracy and judicial process.
“I am not too happy with what has happened this morning in terms of the President overruling the Supreme Court. I am not happy. We are not telling the world that we are practicing democracy. It is not a proper precedent. The world is watching us, the international community is watching us.
“If you cannot obey your court orders, how do you instill confidence in the international community to come into your country to make investments? In case there is any dispute, can there be a decision of the court that can be complied with within your country? We are not sending the right signal,” he said.