The Federal Government has told the Supreme Court that it lacks the power to rule on the deadline it gave alongside the Central Bank of Nigeria on the swapping of old Naira notes for new ones.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), stated the government’s position.
Malami had thus challenged the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to suspend the scheduled deadline for the use of the old N200, N500 and N1000 Naira notes.
His position, contained in a preliminary objection he filed on behalf of the Federal Government, came hours after the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the deadline should be temporarily suspended.
It will be recalled that the Supreme Court had on the strength of an ex-parte application that was filed by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states, restrained FG and the CBN from enforcing the February 10 deadline for the use of the old banknotes.
In a unanimous decision, a seven-member panel of the apex court led by Justice Inyang Okoro, okayed continuation of the use of the old redesigned Naira notes as valid legal tender, pending the determination of the suit which it adjourned till February 15.
Meanwhile, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), sued as the sole defendant, as the representative of the Federal Government, filed his opposition to the suit marked: SC/CV/162/2023 as a preliminary objection against it at the Supreme Court on Wednesday night, applied for its outright dismissal.
Listing his grounds for challenging power of the Supreme Court to intervene in the matter, Malami, accused the three states of opposing FG’s power, through its agency, the CBN, to withdraw old Banknotes and introduce new ones.
“The Plaintiffs’ suit is about the power vested on the Central Bank of Nigeria by the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 to call in its Banknotes and introduce new ones.
“This suit as presently constituted, falls under section 251(1)(a)(p)(q) & (r) of the Constitution (exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court) by virtue of the subject matter and parties.
“The Claims or reliefs are not against the Federation, but the Federal Government and its Agency, the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria is distinct from the Federation or the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The Plaintiffs have no grievance whatsoever against the Federation of Nigeria.
“This Suit has disclosed no dispute that invokes this Court’s original jurisdiction as constitutionally defined.
“This suit is an abuse of judicial process.
The Plaintiff have no locus standi to institute this action.
“The Plaintiffs have no reasonable cause of action against the Defendant”, Malami added.