Naira redesign no more: President’s directive canned by Nigerian Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has ruled that the old 200, 500 and 1,000 naira notes remain in circulation until Dec. 31, 2023, effectively nullifying the naira redesign previously announced by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. The introduction of redesign sought to phase out the use of the old naira notes. 

A seven-member panel of the court, led by John Okoro, said in a unanimous judgment that President Buhari issued the directive without consultation.

The court said the federal government should have consulted with the state government through relevant bodies, including the National Council of States and the National Economic Council, before embarking on such a project.

The Supreme Court went on to declare Buhari’s directive withdrawing the old notes from circulation as illegal and an affront to the 1999 Constitution. The court also issued another order nullifying it and extended the legal tender status of the currency notes until Dec. 31.

A comparison between the old naira banknotes (left) and the canceled new notes (right)

The pronouncement is among nine declarations and orders issued by the Supreme Court in a judgment on the suit filed by some state governors challenging the president’s directive.

In late 2022, Buhari ordered the withdrawal of the 200, 500 and 1,000 naira notes by Jan. 31, 2021 after introducing the newly designed versions of the banknotes, which were in short supply.

Related: eNaira is ‘crippled‘: Nigeria in talks with NY-based company for revamp

The directive, described as a “demonetization policy” by some state governors opposed to it, has created a scarcity of banknotes, creating disruption in the financial system and hardship for millions of citizens.

The inability to access cash due to the scarcity of banknotes also affected many businesses.

With an already existing pegged maximum ATM withdrawal amount of 20,000 naira ($43), this has also affected crypto users in Nigeria who want to change tokens to fiat for local business transactions and day-to-day expenditures.

However, this new ruling by the apex court has shed hope on the availability of cash for transactions.

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