A lawyer, Joshua Alobo, has approached the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, praying the court to stop the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from implementing the January 31 deadline to phase out the old naira notes (N200, N500 and N1,000).
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 banknotes would cease to be legal tender for three weeks. Listed as first to third defendants in the suit are the CBN, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, and the attorney general of the federation, Mr Abubakar Malami.
He said this was to give time for when commercial banks would have enough new notes to dispense.
In an affidavit deposed by a citizen, Musa Damudi, the plaintiff told the court that the CBN governor had, on October 26, announced that the apex bank would introduce a new series of redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes into the financial system.
The lawyer said the decision, though a welcome idea, is causing anxiety among Nigerians, especially the less privileged, as they have yet to access the new naira notes.
He said that although the new notes, unveiled on November 23 by President Muhammadu Buhari to curb inflation and entrench a cashless society to curb money laundering and corruption, their unavailability was causing apprehension among Nigerians.
Mr Alobo accused banks of failing to make the new notes available to their customers, adding that as of December 25, he was still given the old notes on the counter and through the automatic teller machine (ATM).
The law professor argued that the January 31 deadline discriminates against rural dwellers, poor and less privileged persons.
“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,” Mr Alobo explained. “The current daily limit of transaction to N20,000 is against the central bank’s daily limit of N100,000.”
A date has been fixed to hear the case.