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States insist on contempt charge against Malami, Emefiele

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Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states have finalised arrangements to initiate contempt proceedings against the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele despite the Monday night directive to commercial banks to accept and dispense the old naira notes.

The lead counsel for the three states, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, SAN, disclosed to The PUNCH on Thursday that the press statement released by the CBN in which it directed banks to accept the old naira notes was a mere camouflage to give the impression of compliance.

The Supreme Court had in its March 3 judgment extended the legal tender status of the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes until December 31.

In the ruling delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court held that President Muhammadu Buhari breached the constitution in the manner he issued directives for the redesigning of the naira.

The seven-man panel also slammed the President over his February 16 broadcast in which he said only the N200 note should remain legal tender in flagrant violation of the restraining order made by the apex court.

The court ordered that the old notes shall remain legal tender till December 31.

However, the AGF and the CBN governor failed to comply with the order despite pressure from Nigerians.

During this time, the banks also refused to accept or dispense the old notes, citing the lack of directives from the CBN regarding the judgment.

Further to the enforcement of the judgment, the plaintiffs served the enrolled order and Certified True Copy of the Supreme Court judgment on the AGF penultimate Friday.

Following the failure of the respondents to obey the judgment, the plaintiffs threatened to file contempt charges against the two officials should they fail to obey the apex court order.

On Monday night, the CBN in a statement directed banks to receive and disburse the old notes as directed by the apex court.

The statement signed by the acting Director of Corporate Communications, CBN, Isa AbdulMumin, read, “In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the rule of law principle that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria, as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court judgment of March 3, 2023.

“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023. Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly.’’

But speaking on Thursday, Mustapha dismissed the CBN statement as a gimmick, insisting that the apex court had not complied with the Supreme Court order.

The senior advocate revealed that he had his clients’ instructions to initiate contempt proceedings against the AGF and the CBN governor.

He stated, “The press release made by the Central Bank of Nigeria is just a mere camouflage just to give an impression of compliance. There is nothing like that. And our clients, Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara, and states have told us that we should go on with the already initiated contempt of proceedings against the Attorney General and the Central Bank Governor.

“The decision of the Supreme Court has not been complied with. They are in contempt of court. We are going to reactivate the already-initiated contempt proceedings. There is a legal process around it.”

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