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Supreme court ruling: States plan contempt proceedings against Malami, Emefiele

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Some state governments are planning to initiate contempt proceedings against the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, over their refusal to implement the Supreme Court judgment on the naira redesign policy of the Federal Government.

According reports Friday, the Federal Government was served with the enrolled order and Certified True Copy of last week’s Supreme Court judgment, which also ordered that the old N1,000, N500 and N200 should be in circulation alongside the new notes till December 31, 2023.

It was gathered that the non-service of the enrolled order and the CTC of the judgment was responsible for the failure of the Federal Government to direct Emefiele to roll out the old notes already withdrawn from circulation.

The silence of President Muhammadu Buhari on the judgment of the apex court had fuelled the rejection of the remaining old N1,000 and N500 as legal tender.

On Monday, some banks commenced paying customers the old notes in partial compliance with the Supreme Court judgment, but by Wednesday the banks stopped disbursing the old notes as the CBN insisted that it had not given any directive to that effect.

The enrolled order and the CTC of the judgment were served on the AGF on Friday afternoon, according to report.

Counsel for Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states, which dragged the Federal Government before the Supreme Court on the matter, Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN), told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview that Malami was served with the enrolled order and the CTC of the judgment on Friday afternoon, adding that he expected immediate compliance with the judgment as the non-service of the documents had given the government and the CBN an escape route.

Mustapha said, “The Attorney-General of the Federation has been served now and we will take it up from there; if there is no compliance now, we will commence committal proceedings against the attorney-general and the CBN governor. When the Supreme Court talks, the constitution makes it compulsory for all government representatives and everybody to comply with its order. It’s not discretional, you have to obey, it is the last and the final and that is why we have separation of power.

“The presence of separation of power is for checks and balances; when the Supreme Court talks, it must be complied with by all persons.”

The lawyer had earlier said, “We are waiting for the enrolled order of the court. We are yet to procure it. As soon as we have it, we will take the next step. When the Supreme Court talks, all organs of government comply and if they don’t comply, the rules are clear. We are going to activate the necessary legal steps within the ambit of the law. But we need to get the enrolled order and serve the defendants. That’s where we are.

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“Anytime from now, we will be able to get the enrolled order and the Certified True Copy of the judgement, then we will take it up from there. But I can assure you, our clients are monitoring the situation and we will take appropriate steps at the right time.”

On what the next step would be if there was still no compliance after serving the AGF the enrolled order and the CTC, Mustapha said, “Courts deal with live issues and not speculations. When we get to the bridge, we will cross it.”

State governors, senior lawyers and other stakeholders had since the judgment was delivered been calling on Buhari to direct the CBN governor to direct commercial banks to start giving out the old notes alongside the new ones in order to ease the scarcity of the naira that has crippled the economy.

Governors Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, among others, had condemned the silence of the President and Emefiele on the judgment.

In the judgment delivered by Justice Agim, the seven-member panel of the apex court held that Buhari breached the constitution in the manner he issued directives for the redesigning of the naira.

On the disobedience of the Supreme Court’s earlier order on the new notes, Justice Agim said Buhari’s broadcast of February 16, 2023 that only the N200 note should remain legal tender made the country’s democracy look like a mere pretension.

Justice Agim stated, “Let me consider the issue of the President’s disobedience of the 8-2-2023 interim order that the new and old versions of naira notes continue to circulate as legal tender until the determination of the pending application for interlocutory injunction. It is not in dispute that the 1st defendant refused to obey the said order.

“The President’s 16-2-2023 national broadcast reproduced here in pages 27-31 demonstrates this disobedience. In disobedience of the order, he directed that only the old N200 naira notes be re-circulated. Interestingly, there is nothing to show the implementation of even that directive. I agree with the 9th plaintiff that the 1st defendant is not entitled to be heard by this court when it has effused to respect the authority of this court and the authority of law from which the authority of the President and the government of Nigeria derives.

READ  Naira Redesign: Banks’ cash withdrawal limit illegal – Supreme Court

“The rule of law upon which our democratic governance is founded becomes illusory if the President of the country or any authority or person refuses to obey the orders of courts. The disobedience of orders of courts by the President in a constitutional democracy as ours is a sign of the failure of the constitution and that democratic governance has become a mere pretension and is now replaced by autocracy or dictatorship.”

The court also dismissed the preliminary objections by the AGF as well as those of Bayelsa and Edo states, and stated that it had jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

Naira scarcity worsens
Meanwhile, it was gathered on Friday that cash had dried up in most banks in Lagos and Ogun states due to what senior bankers described as the inability of the CBN to supply them with new naira notes.

A branch manager of a Tier-1 bank said that his branch last received cash last week Tuesday, adding that bankers were also frustrated about the currency crisis affecting the nation.

The Lagos-based branch manager said, “There have been no supplies of new naira notes to my branch and other neighbouring branches this week. The last supply we got was N5m last week Monday and another N5m the following day. Members of our bullion van team have been on standby throughout this week awaiting signals to come to the CBN to pick cash, but there has been no signal. The N10m we got last week didn’t last up to Wednesday.

“Following the Supreme Court judgment, we were initially paying out the old N1,000 and N500 notes deposited with us and which had not been deposited with the CBN to desperate customers, but we had to stop when the customers came back to complain that people were not accepting the old notes from them.”

Another senior banker corroborated this, adding that his first generation bank had not been supplied new naira notes to disburse to customers.

He said, “Even me as a banker, I can only boast of N100 as I am speaking to you. We have not been supplied with cash this week. The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Instant Payment platform is not working; the digital payment systems are overwhelmed. When you see crowds at our branches now, we are not giving them cash, what we are doing is to deal with complaints arising from digital payments.

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“I think it is deliberate not to supply naira notes to the banks because the government and the CBN don’t want politicians to mop them up. Politicians are desperately looking for cash to pay their agents now. I know of a candidate for the Lagos State House of Assembly, who has launched a passionate appeal to his friends to raise money to pay his party agents, who were not paid after the presidential and National Assembly elections and threatened not to take part in the governorship and state House of Asse

An operations manager in one of the commercial banks said his branch had been unable to dispense cash to customers because it did not have any. She explained that her branch had not received any cash from the headquarters in the last one month, and that the most recent any of the nearby branches received cash was two weeks ago.

“The cash scarcity is getting worse. Even as a bank worker, I don’t have cash to spend. We have not been receiving money from the headquarters and so we have nothing to give to customers,” she added.

Asked if they had a directive to dispense the old notes in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling, she said, “No, there is no communication from our headquarters in that regard. We have some old notes that customers deposited, which we can pay for now, but we don’t have an instruction to disburse them.

“Ordinarily, people expected the banks to start paying the old notes immediately after the Supreme Court ruled on the matter on March 3, but we needed a directive from the CBN through our headquarters to do that. So, the challenge is three-pronged; the CBN did not release the old notes for us to circulate; we don’t have the authorisation to dispense the old notes we have in our vault; and the CBN has refused to supply us new notes. That is what is responsible for the scarcity everywhere.

“The last time my branch received old notes was early February, about a month ago. Our zonal branch received N3m from the headquarters, and under that zone, we have eight branches. By the time that was shared between the eight branches, what got to the branches was insignificant and it didn’t even last a day. Don’t forget that the bankers are also cash-strapped.”

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FG commences price enforcement in Abuja, targets Lagos, others

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The Federal Government on Thursday initiated sporadic enforcement raids at multiple supermarkets and markets within the Federal Capital Territory to ensure adherence to price display and quantity regulations, aiming to reduce the cost of food commodities nationwide.

It also said it would continue unannounced inspections at super and open markets in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, and Ibadan in the coming weeks to probe the abnormal price surges and take firm measures against any companies caught engaging in unfair market practices like price manipulation, excessive pricing, or cartel formation.

The Executive Secretary of The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Dr. Adamu Abdullahi, said this when he conducted an enforcement exercise to eliminate grocery store price gouging and illegal pricing schemes.

During the exercise that lasted several hours, the FCCPC sealed 4U Supermarket and evacuated 33 bags of fake stallion and caprice rice filled with weevils from one of the branches of the same supermarket located at 58 Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse II.

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Earlier on Wednesday, the commission had ordered its operatives to intensify monitoring of both formal and informal markets to identify businesses engaged in unnecessary inflation of prices for required enforcement action.

 

This move is a direct response to concerns raised by consumers about the rising costs of goods, which go against the recent strengthening of the naira.

Food inflation has been a recurring issue influencing the steady increase of Nigeria’s headline inflation of 33.2 per cent, recording an unprecedented food inflation rate of 40 per cent in March 2024.

 

It was exacerbated by the extensive fall of the naira against the dollar in January and February leading to the soaring prices of essential goods and services, raising the costs of living costs to an all-time high.

Although the presidency had vowed to continue its campaign against racketeers, urging Nigerians to expect a stronger naira, a significant drop in the prices of essential commodities was elusive.

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The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, said that the president had directed consumer protection agencies to ensure that the local prices reflect the rising value of the naira.

“But there is still much work to be done and this is not a time for celebration. It is a time for doubling down and working harder to ensure that inflation is sustainably brought down in short order.

 

“Consumer protecting regulatory agencies must step up enforcement to ensure that our people are not short-changed by enterprises that fail to reflect the prevailing exchange rates on the pricing of goods and services across the board.

 

“As our private and publicly-owned refineries resume operations between now and the first quarter of 2025, the nation’s cash position will dramatically improve to the extent that Nigerians can rightly expect a stronger Naira and a fair reflection of its strength in the prices of commodities in the market place,” said Ngelale.

READ  Malami asks S’Court to dismiss suit against FG on old naira notes deadline

 

The Presidency also assured Nigerians of the better days ahead saying the benefits of the reforms will be “more evident” as the administration progresses.

 

“Once you join the rising spending power of Africa’s largest population with the historic availability of trillions of naira for consumer credit that will bolster the real sector, you will see why Nigerians will be most pleased that they elected a financial engineer and businessman as president by the end of his first term in office, even as the signs are increasingly more evident today,” the Presidential spokesman stated.

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BREAKING: EFCC declares Yahaya Bello wanted

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has declared Yahaya Bello, former governor of Kogi state, wanted over alleged N80 billion financial crimes.

 

“Anybody with information as to his whereabout should report immediately to the Commission or the nearest Police Station,” the commission said.

Details later…

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BREAKING: Protesters besiege PDP secretariat, demand Wike’s suspension

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Reform Vanguard, on Thursday, besieged the party’s secretariat in Abuja to demand the suspension of Nyesom Wike, minister of the federal capital territory (FCT).

 

The group also called for the resignation of Umar Damagun as acting national chair of the PDP.

 

The group arrived the headquarters ahead of the scheduled national executive council (NEC) meeting of the PDP, while demanding that Wike should be suspended for alleged anti-party activities.

 

Speaking with reporters, Usman Seidu, convener of the group, said Damagun and Wike have “undermined our collective efforts and jeopardised our very existence as a formidable opposition force”.

 

“We commend our former National Chairman Dr. Iyorchia Ayu for his demonstration of unwavering loyalty and love for our party by withdrawing all pending suits against the party in the court,” Seidu said.

 

“His actions have paved the way for our great party to move forward, to cleanse our ranks and restore integrity to our leadership.

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However, the presence of individuals like Amb. Iliya Damagun and Mr. Nyesom Wike within our midst remains a cancerous growth on the body of our party.

 

“Their actions, tantamount to betrayal, have undermined our collective efforts and jeopardised our very existence as a formidable opposition force.

 

“The time has come for the NEC to act decisively. Amb. Iliya Damagun must be removed from his position as acting national chairman, in accordance with the provisions of our party’s constitution.

 

“He must be replaced with a loyal member from the north-central, someone who embodies the spirit of our party and will work tirelessly for the advancement of its course.

 

“Furthermore, we cannot turn a blind eye to the continuous presence of Mr. Nyesom Wike within our ranks. His romance with the APC has been handsomely rewarded with his appointment as minister of the FCT and as such, his stay is a slap in the face of every loyal member of our party.

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“If the party fails to take decisive action against those who have betrayed our trust, then it risks losing the faith and support of it’s loyal members across the country.”

 

Wike attended the national caucus meeting of the PDP on Wednesday.

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