Economy Watch

Buhari Disowns Emefiele, Says CBN Shouldn’t Disobey Supreme Court Orders on Naira Notes

President Muhammadu Buhari has distanced himself from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s alleged disobedience to orders of the Supreme Court regarding the implementation of the Naira redesign and cash swap policy of the apex bank.

According to Buhari, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, cannot claim that he refused to obey the Supreme Court’s order on recirculation of old Naira notes because he did not get a directive from him to comply.

Buhari, who spoke in a statement by his senior media assistant, Garba Shehu, was reacting to allegations that he was supporting the CBN Governor to flout the rule of law.

“Following the ongoing intense debate about the compliance concerning the legality of the old currency notes, the Presidency therefore wishes to state clearly that President Buhari has not done anything knowingly and deliberately to interfere with or obstruct the administration of justice,” said Shehu.

“The President is not a micromanager and will not, therefore, stop the Attorney General and the CBN Governor from performing the details of their duties in accordance with the law. In any case, it is debatable at this time if there is proof of willful denial by the two of them on the orders of the apex court.

“The directive of the President, following the meeting of the Council of State. is that the Bank must make available for circulation all the money that is needed and nothing has happened to change the position.

“It is an established fact that the President is an absolute respecter of judicial process and the authority of the courts. He has done nothing in the last eight or so years to act in any way to obstruct the administration of justice, cause lack of confidence in the administration of justice, or otherwise interfere or corrupt the courts and there is no reason whatsoever that he should do so now when he is getting ready to leave office.

“As for the cashless system the CBN is determined to put in place, it is a known fact that many of the country’s citizens who bear the brunt of the sufferings, surprisingly support the policy as they believe that the action would cut corruption, fight terrorism, build an environment of honesty and reinforce the incorruptible leadership of the President.

“It is therefore wide off the mark to blame the President for the current controversy over the cash scarcity, despite the Supreme Court judgement. The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President,” Buhari said, adding that it was unfair for anyone to claim he aids government officials to disobey court orders when “no court order at any level has been issued or directed at him.”

The Supreme Court had on March 3 ordered that old N1,000 and N500 notes should continue to serve as legal tender until December 31 to ease the scarcity of cash that has accompanied the CBN’s currency redesign policy.

Despite the order, the Buhari government and the Central Bank of Nigeria did not issue any official pronouncement in compliance with the order until March 13 (today) when the apex bank directed commercial banks to start recirculating the old naira notes.

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