Drama in Supreme Court as more states join in battle over cashless policy

Ogunsakin Mustapha
5 Min Read

From Olalekan Awojodu, Abuja

The case before the Supreme Court of Nigerian on the cashless policy of the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday left some Federating States pitted against themselves on both sides of the divide, signaling uneasiness in the republic.

Even as the apex court was hearing the case in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, riots was reported in Ibadan, Oyo State, South Western part of Nigeria, also a signal of the hardship people are going through over the policy.

Ironically, two states in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Bayelsa and Edo States, sought and got the approval of the Supreme Court to join the Federal government as defendants in the case. Other states in the same ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), Ekiti, Ondo, Sokoto, Cross River, Lagos, joined the original three, Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara as plaintiffs. The significance of this move is that the plaintiff states are taking the side of the APC presidential aspirant, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the cashless policy, while the PDP states sides with President Muhammadu Buhari, whose government introduced the policy. It symbolizes that there’s significant division within the ruling party, less than two weeks to the presidential election.

Meanwhile, another PDP state, Rivers,  refused to join any of the two divides as it filed its own suit independently. Rivers through its counsel, Mr Emmanuel Ukala SAN stood its ground not to team up with other states adding that it would prefer to do its case separately.

Meanwhile  the suffering of the people continues are riots began for the second time since the policy started, in Ibadan. Video of uprising at Eleyele area of the state capital is already trending on social media. Yesterday, Tuesday, Sango-Ota area of Ogun State witnessed similar riots.

There was a mild drama at the Supreme Court on Wednesday when Edo and Bayelsa States pitched their tents with the Federal Government in suit by States against the Federal Government on implementation of the Cashless Policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN.

In another drama, River State filed a separate suit against the Federal Government on the same matter.

A Senior advocate of Nigeria who represented Edo State at the proceedings, Kenneth Dozie, SAN told a panel of seven Justices of the Apex Court that it was in support of the Cashless Policy Regime and sought to be joined as respondent.

Bayelsa State followed the suit when through its counsel, Mr Damian Dodo SAN, it announced support for the Federal Government and applied to be joined as respondent in the matter.

However, Six other states, Lagos, Cross River, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo and Sokoto joined their counterparts, Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara in the legal battle against the Federal Government..

The six states in their respective motions for joinder pitched their tents with the three aggrieved states that initially ignited the legal battle.

Their joinder motion was moved by Mr Samuel Ologunorisa SAN and was granted by Justice John Okoro who presided over the matter.

The court directed the plaintiffs to amend their originating summons to reflect the name of the six fresh plaintiffs.

In the same vein, Bayelsa and Edo through Mr Damian Dodo SAN moved their application for joinder as respondents and was granted by Justice John Okoro following no objection on the issue.

Justice Okoro also directed the Federal Government, Edo and Bayelsa to amend their statements of defense to reflect the new position of the case.

Hearing in the suit has been shifted to Wednesday February 22 following consensus by the parties.

Meanwhile, lawyer to the three plaintiff states, Abdulkazeem Mustapha  countered the position of the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele on the old currency notes, saying it still remains a legal tender in Nigeria as there’s no counter order of the supreme court  from the ex parte order earlier issued.

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