Supreme Court Declares Old Naira Notes as Valid Legal Tender Until December 2023

Supreme Court Declares Old Naira Notes as Valid Legal Tender Until December 2023

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has on Friday issued an order that the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes remain valid legal tender until December 31, 2023. This ruling comes about a month after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had announced the end of the old notes for the redesigned ones.

Justice Emmanuel Agim, in his lead judgment, quoted that President Muhammadu Buhari had acknowledged the shortcomings of the policy in his national broadcast. The court also noted that the President's unwillingness to follow the February 8 order for the deadline extension was a demonstration of authoritarianism which should not have a place in a democratic society.

It added that the new naira notes policy was not in accordance with Section 23 subsection 2(1) of the 1999 constitution. The court, therefore, in its verdict, extended the deadline for the old notes to December 31, 2023.

The CBN had initially withdrawn the old notes from circulation by February 10 with claims that the previous notes were beyond its control and more vulnerable to financial crime and electoral fraud during the 2023 election.

N500 and N1000 became invalid as a form of Nigerian legal tender in January, with President Buhari extending the expiration date of the old N200 until April.

In contrast to the CBN's decision, the state governors of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara, along with ten other states, on February, filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court against the Federal Government, seeking to invalidate the CBN deadline that they believed was not properly implemented.

The Supreme Court decision that the old notes should remain in use until the end of 2023 favors the plaintiff and aims to give citizens sufficient time to exchange their expired money for the new ones which are currently sparsely available.

The ruling is being celebrated by citizens and businesses who had been facing a shortage of cash due to the scarcity of the new Naira notes. The court's decision is expected to bring much-needed relief to Nigerians and businesses who missed the deadline for the old notes and were unsure of the possible outcome of the case.

It is also hoped that the ruling, if respected by the federal government, will provide a stabilizing force to the Nigerian economy by allowing people and businesses more time to adjust to the new notes and other new policies initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria in recent months.

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