The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami on Thursday spoke on President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive on naira redesign.
Malami noted that President Buhari did not breach the Supreme Court’s injunction as regards the Naira redesign and currency swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
A seven-member panel of the Supreme Court had ordered the suspension of the naira swap deadlines and directed the continued use of the old notes, following a request by three state governors.
However, in a national broadcast, the president declared only the old 200 notes as legal tender, maintaining that the old 500 and 1000 notes had ceased to be valid.
The development saw some All Progressives Congress (APC) governors drag President Buhari and CBN before the apex court.
The governors, in Suit No SC/CV/162/2023, filed on Friday by their counsel, A.J. Owonikoko (SAN), want the apex court to declare the President’s directives in his broadcast as unconstitutional.
The plaintiffs in the suit are the Attorneys General (AGs) of Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara, Ondo, Ekiti, Katsina, Ogun, Cross River, Sokoto, and Lagos states while the defendants are the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), as well as the AGs of Bayelsa and Edo states.
Meanwhile, the minister during the 67th ministerial press briefing at the state house stated that as far as the rule of law is concerned, there are many options available.
Reacting to questions on the allegations of breach of Supreme Court order by the President and his administration, Malami said: “Your question can best be answered within the context of what constitutes a rule of law in the Nigerian situation. Where an order is made by a court, you have multiple options but let me state before even addressing the issue of the options available at our disposal as a government.
“The fact, clearly, that we are not a breach of any order made by the court, inclusive of any order associated with the naira redesign. We are not in breach. I believe I’m not a banker but you have not gone to establish which bank is it that you have gone to present N1000 or N500 notes that have been rejected. So we are not in breach.
“But then, assuming we are in breach, the fact remains that this matter is sub-judice as you rightly know. It’s being contested before the Supreme Court and when an order is made, you have multiple options within the context of the rule of law.
“One, you are entitled as a matter of right, if the facts and evidence support your position, to apply for setting it aside. The position of the law, legal jurisprudence is clear. Once you are attacking and you seeking for setting aside of an existing order of the court, you cannot be said to be operating in breach when you presented your application for setting aside.
“If the court is not an apex court, you equally have a right of appeal and support the right of appeal with an application of stay of execution order. So the bottom line of what I’m trying to state. If the matter is sub-judice and within the context of the rule of law, we are doing the needful as a government, in terms of ensuring that the right of the government, within the context of the naira redesign, is being protected. So we are not in breach.”