President President Muhammadu Buhari is in contempt of the Supreme Court following his national broadcast Thursday morning on the new naira notes design policy, activist-lawyer Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, has said.
Adegboruwa said by purporting to vary the apex court’s order that all the old notes should continue to be legal tender, the President committed “executive rascality.”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria slammed Buhari for attempting to “overrule the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”
Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court, in a case filed by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states, barred the Federal Government, acting through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or any other agent, from enforcing the February 10 deadline for the use of old naira notes.
In a unanimous ruling by a seven-member panel, led by Justice John Okoro, it held that the “interim injunction” will subsist “pending the hearing and determination of the plaintiffs/applicants’ motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”
On Wednesday, the court said its February 8 order barring the Federal Government and its agencies from enforcing the February 10 deadline for the use of old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes subsists.
But, despite touting his administration’s “respect” for the rule of law and admitting in his speech that “the subject matter is before the courts and some pronouncements have been made”, the President still disregarded the apex court’s order in part.
He said: “To further ease the supply pressures particularly to our citizens, I have given approval to the CBN that the old N200 bank notes be released back into circulation and that it should also be allowed to circulate as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes for 60 days from February 10, 2023 to April 10 2023 when the old N200 notes ceases to be legal tender.”
Faulting him, Adegboruwa said: “The President cannot overrule the Supreme Court of Nigeria. There is separation of powers in a democracy.
“Under section 235 of the 1999 Constitution, the Supreme Court is the final authority in legal pronouncements in Nigeria.
“Under section 287(1) of the Constitution, the President is statutorily obliged to obey, enforce and give effect to the decision of the Supreme Court.”
Section 287(1) of the 1999 Constitution reads: “(1) The decisions of the Supreme court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by courts with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the supreme Court.”
The senior lawyer said the President’s broadcast “is sad for our democracy. Since he already admitted that the matter is subjudice, the President should not have proceeded to vary the order of the Supreme Court.
“The President and indeed the executive should not give the impression that citizens can brazenly disregard lawful orders of any court, as that will only encourage anarchy and lawlessness.
“It amounts to executive rascality and brazen disregard and contempt of the Supreme Court, for the President to separate the denomination of the old notes for legality. It is not open to the President to choose which portion of the order of the Supreme Court that will be obeyed.”
Adegboruwa advised him to retrace his steps.
“The President should reverse his directive and add the N500 and N1000 old notes, failing which the Supreme Court should overrule the directive of the President on February 22 when the case comes up,” he added