December 3, 2023

Naira Swap: AGF asks court to dismiss state governments’ suit

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to dismiss a suit filed by three state governments challenging the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In a preliminary objection filed by the AGF through his lawyers – Mahmud Magaji and Tijanni Gazali – the Federal Government argued that the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

In court filings dated February 8, 2023, the AGF contends that “the plaintiffs have equally not shown reasonable cause of action against the defendant.”

They are asking the court to strike out the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

Citing grounds in support of the objection, they argue that the state governments’ suit challenges the Federal Government through its agency, the CBN, to withdraw old banknotes from the financial system and introduce new ones.

With reference to Section 251 of the Constitution, the defence lawyers argue that the suit falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in matters of monetary policy of an agency of the Federal Government.

“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 (Supreme) Court’s original jurisdiction as constitutionally defined,” the AGF added.

Three state governments – Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara – had sued the Federal Government over the naira redesign policy of the CBN.

In the suit filed on February 3, the states urged the Supreme Court to compel President Muhammadu Buhari, the CBN and commercial banks to rescind the February 10 deadline for the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes as Nigeria’s legal tender.

Ruling on an ex parte request by the plaintiffs, the Supreme Court, ordered the Federal Government to halt the implementation of the currency redesign policy pending the determination of the substantive suit.

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