During last week’s proceedings, a seven-member panel of Justices of the apex court, presided by Justice John Okoro, which insisted on hearing all the applications filed in the matter same day to a void a situation where the judiciary will be made a scapegoat, fixed the date for judgement after all the parties adopted their various processes in the matter.
A total of sixteen states are now plaintiffs in the suit against the federal government, while the Edo and Bayelsa state governments joined the federal government as defendants in the matter.
The Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara state governments were the first set of states that challenged the naira redesign policy of the Federal Government, but were latter joined by Katsina, Lagos, Cross River, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Sokoto, Niger, Abia, Rivers, Nasarawa, Jigawa and Kano states in a consolidated amended Originating Summons, in praying the Apex Court to void and set aside the policy on the ground that, it is inflicting hardships on innocent Nigerians.
The states had accused Buhari of usurping the function of the Central Bank o Nigerians (CBN), and asked that the directive issued by President Muhammadu Buhari be voided.
While adopting the briefs of Lagos state, the Attorney General of the state, Mayosore Onigbanjo (SAN) drew the court’s attention to an application the state filed seeking an order of the court stopping the appearance of the AGF in the matter until the president comply with the order of the court to the effect that N200, N500 and N1000 notes be used together with the new naira notes.
The Zamfara state government, represented by Abidun Owonikoko (SAN), in an application, prayed the apex court to make an order setting aside the directive of the President in his February 16, broadcast, which limits the 15th February order of the court to only N200 notes.
The Attorney General of the Federation represented by Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), in his objection, claimed that the Apex Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit because the dispute that arose over the naira re-design was not between it and the sixteen states that can lead to invocation of the Supreme Court’s direct intervention.
He further pleaded with the Apex Court to void and set aside the contempt charges initiated against the AGF, on the ground that such charges should be directed at the CBN, being the body responsible for the acts that led to the dispute, adding that even though the plaintiffs made reference to the apex bank 32 times in their processes, they did not deem it fit to join the bank as defendant in the matter.
He said that the anger of the plaintiffs should have been directed at the CBN, responsible solely for the naira re-design.
The senior lawyer also informed the Court that seven of the reliefs being sought are against CBN, adding that it would be a great injustice to make order against a party not before the court.
Agabi, while urging the court to dismiss the case of the plaintiffs, maintained that the plaintiffs are crying against the naira re-design at the wrong court and argued that the Supreme Court should direct the states to the Federal High Court.
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He said that section 20 (2) of the CBN Act being attacked by the states can only be challenged at the Federal High Court and not the Supreme Court.
The preliminary objection of Edo State was presented by its counsel, Chief Kenneth Mozia (SAN) while that of Bayelsa State against the suit was argued by Mr Audu Anuga, (SAN).
The states joined the Federal Government in urging the court to dismiss the suit of the plaintiffs for want of jurisdiction.