The Supreme Court of Nigeria has declared illegal the directive issued by President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the old N200, N500, and N1,000 naira notes from circulation. The court, led by John Okoro, ruled that the President issued the directive without consultation and declared it an affront to the 1999 Constitution.
The court also issued an order extending the legal tender status of the currency notes until December 31, 2023. The pronouncement was part of nine declarations and orders issued by the Supreme Court in a judgment on a suit filed by some state governors challenging the President’s directive.
Late last year, Buhari had ordered the withdrawal of the old notes by January 31, 2021, after introducing newly designed versions of the banknotes. However, the scarcity of the new notes created a disruption in the financial system and hardships for millions of citizens.
The inability to access cash due to the scarcity of banknotes during the period also affected a lot of businesses, including crypto users in Nigeria who want to change tokens to fiat for local business transactions and day-to-day expenditures.
Reacting to the court ruling, an economist and financial analyst, Michael Ojo, said, “This decision by the Supreme Court has brought relief to millions of Nigerians who have been struggling to access cash for their daily transactions. It is also a wake-up call to the federal government to consult widely before embarking on such policies.” The apex court’s decision has provided hope for the availability of cash for transactions anytime, as Nigerians can continue to use the old notes until the end of 2023.