Currency swap: Buhari may extend deadline till April as Sanwo-Olu caution Lagosians

Ogunsakin Mustapha
6 Min Read
President Muhammadu Buhari
There indications that President Muhammadu Buhari may have bowed to pressure on the on go in currency swap as he was reported to have conceded to an extension of 60 days to allow the old currencies to run concurrently with the new ones.
This is just as Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu asks Lagosians to continue to use the old currency notes as legal tender. Sanwo-Olu’s instruction is coming on the heels of the fact that some agencies under his government, particularly Lagos State Judiciary had started rejecting the old currency notes.

Sources close to Aso Villa said that the president’s consideration bothers on the fact that he wanted to avoid disobedience of the Supreme Court’s interim order that the old notes remain valid pending the determination of the suit filed by some governors.

According to an online newspaper, the Cable, which qouted a senior government official who said that the president was worried about the hardship faced by Nigerians as well as the legal implications of disobeying the order of the constitutional court.

“The official told TheCable that this was the focus of a meeting between Buhari and the leadership of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) as well as the Progressives Governors Forum until the early hours of Wednesday. The governors were then expected to withdraw their case at the apex court;

“The resolve was to give room for President Buhari to make concession on the monetary policy and make the following announcements public:

  • that the old naira notes of N1,000, N500 and N200 be allowed free movement in and out of the banks for the next 60 days.
  • that all three notes will be legal tender during this period, but that any old N500 or N1,000 that goes into a bank will not be sent back into circulation.

“Buhari, who had earlier delayed attending the federal executive council (FEC) meeting by 40 minutes to monitor the development at the Supreme Court, was disappointed that the governors reneged on their promise to withdraw the case;

He had, after the meeting on Wednesday, met with Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, and Modibbo Tukur, the director of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), on the need to allow all old notes circulate in the system to ease hardship on ordinary Nigerians;

“The president will not disobey the court. But he is also concerned about the suffering of Nigerians and wants the to find lasting solution to it,” the official further explained to TheCable;

“It is clear that some militancy is being propagated against the people by the elite who have the means to secure the new notes no matter what while the people continue to suffer;

“The president will continue to engage and see the way out of the logjam.”

Meawhile, Babajide Sanwo-Olu warned Lagosians to desist from rejecting the old not notes. In a press release signed by the state commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, the governor warned that those who reject old currency notes will face prosecution.
The statement reads:
“The Lagos State Government wish to put on record the patience and calmness of Lagosians following the controversy generated by the Naira shortage crisis;
The State Government has joined the dispute at the Supreme Court, which today adjourned the hearing of the matter till February 22. When the matter first came up on February 8, the apex court said the old notes remained legal tender;
That position has not changed. The State government hereby warns those rejecting the old notes to desist from doing so or face prosecution. It is against the law to reject the old notes as doing so is contrary to the position of the Supreme Court;
Governor Sanwo-Olu urges Lagosians to remain law-abiding and shun mischief makers who may exploit this temporary situation to promote their anti-people agenda. He is confident that the Judiciary will resolve all the issues around the currency shortage crisis;
To cushion the effect of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directive on the old notes, especially on the vulnerable among us, Lagos State has started the distribution of the food packs promised by the Governor. The 50% fares slash on all state transportation facilities continues, as directed by Mr Governor”.
Sanwo-Olu’s message may be a clarion call on the state judiciary that has rejected old currency notes in the last two days.  Lawyers, litigants and other court users were prevented from filing documents by the court registry which insisted on new notes or payment into banks.
At the Ikeja High Court headquarters of the state judiciary, litigants and lawyers approached Polaris Bank situated within the court premises but were turned back. The court officials who preferred annonimity said that they did nor receive fresh instruction from CBN asking them to receive old notes after February 10.

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