The Presidency has reacted to public concerns that President Muhammadu Buhari did not react to the Supreme Court judgement on the issue of the N500 and N1,000 old currency notes.
In a press release, the Presidency stated:
- “At no time did he instruct the Attorney General and the CBN Governor to disobey any court orders involving the government and other parties. Since the President was sworn into office in 2015, he has never directed anybody to defy court orders, in the strong belief that we can’t practise democracy without the rule of law.”
The Presidency also affirmed that the President has not done anything knowingly and deliberately to interfere with or obstruct the administration of justice, despite ongoing intense debate about the compliance concerning the legality of the old currency notes. The press release stated:
- “The President is not a micromanager and will not stop the AG & CBN Gov from performing details of their duties in accordance with the law. It is debatable at this time if there is proof of willful denial by the two of them, of the orders of the apex Court.”
The Presidency affirmed that the directive of the President, following the meeting of the Council of State, is that the Bank must make available for circulation all the money that is needed and nothing has happened to change the position. The press release stated:
- “The negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators is unfair and unjust, as no court order at any level has been issued or directed at him.”
The Presidency also stated that the President is an absolute respecter of the judicial process and the authority of the courts. He has done nothing in the last eight or so years to act in any way to obstruct the administration of justice, cause a lack of confidence in the administration of justice, or otherwise interfere or corrupt the courts. According to the press release:
- “As for the cashless system the Central Bank of Nigeria is determined to put in place, it is a known fact that many of the country’s citizens who bear the brunt of the sufferings, surprisingly support the policy as they believe that the action would cut corruption, fight terrorism, build an environment of honesty and reinforce the incorruptible leadership of the President.”
The Presidency denied that the President is to be blamed for the current controversy over the cash scarcity, despite the Supreme Court judgement. The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President. President Muhammadu Buhari also rejected the impression that he lacks compassion, saying that “no government in our recent history has introduced policies to help economically marginalized and vulnerable groups like the present administration.”
Nigerians still confused
Despite the Presidency’s recent press statement on the old currency notes, it did not explicitly instruct Nigerians to accept the old naira notes as ordered by the Supreme Court.
- The statement mainly focused on the President’s commitment to the rule of law and respect for judicial process, and also addressed concerns about the compliance of the Central Bank of Nigeria with court orders related to the old currency notes.
In addition, the statement did not directly instruct the Central Bank to issue a circular to banks and the general public that the old notes can now be accepted. As such, it remains unclear whether the President’s directive to the Bank to make available all the money needed includes the old currency notes.
Nigerians reacted on social media expressing confusion and seeking an interpretation of what the statement meant. See some tweets below.