Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State on Thursday faulted the ban of old N500 and N1,000 notes by President Muhammadu Buhari despite an order of the Supreme Court saying three old banknotes should remain legal tender till a determination on the case.
Wike, in a media chat after the President’s national broadcast on Thursday morning, described as a “corporate interference”, the pronouncement of the President that old N200 notes remain valid for 60 days while old N500 and N1,000 notes cease to be legal tender.
“The Supreme Court having given an interim order, we should have waited for it. As far as I am concerned, it is a corporate interference which is not good for our system, for our democracy,” the governor said.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had extended the deadline for the swap of old N200, N500, and N1,000 from January 31 to February 10 following complaints by many Nigerians but the Supreme Court held that the Federal Government, the CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the deadline pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue on February 22.
However, the President, in a national broadcast on Thursday, directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days.
He said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes are no longer legal tender in Nigeria.
In his reaction, Wike said though the naira redesign policy is targeted at some people, the timing and implementation were wrong.
The governor said he thought the President would have obeyed the apex court of the land and not interfered.
“The highest court of the land has made a pronouncement. The Supreme Court has said do not do anything that will affect the use of the old naira note.
“I feel that (the President’s declaration) is not the proper thing and I am not happy,” he said.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor said the advisers of the President should have counselled him to respect Supreme Court order.
He said, “This also tells us how we do not respect or obey the rule of law. At this level, the advisers to Mr President would have said, ‘This issue is subject to litigation and any step you take will one way or the other affect the Supreme Court’s (stance)’.”