Alex Enumah and Udora Orizu in Abuja
Justice Chizoba Oriji of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama has refused to grant a motion seeking to stop the new cash withdrawal limits of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which is expected to become effective next month.
The judge, ordered the applicants to rather put all the defendants on notice and ordered accelerated hearing in the suit.The applications numbering about 10 had on behalf of themselves and 20 million unbanked Nigerian citizens sued the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation, the CBN and the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, over the cash withdrawal limits and the redesign of the N1000, N500 and N200 banknotes.
The applicants prayed the Court to grant injunctions restraining the respondents from proceeding with the January 31, 2023 deadline to end the use of the current N200, N500 and N1,000 notes as it affects the applicants without any realistic plans or workable guidelines to cover the over 20 million unbanked Nigerians who are vulnerable to information and the use of technologically driven platform without the possibility of financial inclusion.
They prayed for another injunction restraining the respondents from implementing the revised cash withdrawal policy, which limits the maximum cash withdrawal over the counter (OTC) by individuals and corporate organisations to N100, 000 and N500, 000 respectively per week.They claimed that the new policy constituted a flagrant violation of their fundamental rights as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
Besides an order stopping the CBN from implementing the new policy, they requested for an order for accelerated hearing and also an order for substituted service on the parties while also praying for the order of court mandating the CBN to produce a detailed plan and guidelines covering the over 20 million unbanked citizens who are vulnerable to the use of telecommunication and technologically driven money platforms.
After listening to their submissions, Justice Oriji refused to grant the prayers for injunction but rather directed that all the respondents be put on notice to come and show cause why the order for injunction should not be granted against them.
The judge thereafter adjourned the matter to January 10, 2023, after granting orders for accelerated hearing and substituted service.Meanwhile, Emefiele has written to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila assuring that he would brief the lawmakers on the recent monetary policies of the apex bank as soon as possible.
The House had via a motion at a plenary last week summoned Emefiele for explanations on his recent monetary policies especially the cash withdrawal limits.The House had asked the CBN Governor to appear before yesterday for more information on the policy.
But in a letter dated December 13, 2022, with a reference number GVD/DGC/CON/NAS/002/055, signed by the Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Edward Adamu and addressed to Gbajabiamila, Emefiele said he couldn’t be physically present to brief the lawmakers due to his trip to the United States of America with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Titled: “Re -Invitation for a Briefing,” the letter read on the floor of the House by the deputy speaker and presiding officer for Thursday plenary, Hon. Idris Wase stated: “We refer to your invitation to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to brief the House of Representatives on recent policies of the Bank on Thursday, December 15, 2022. We respectfully apprise you that the CBN Governor is a member of the delegation of H.E. President Muhammadu Buhari currently attending the USA Africa Summit in Washington D.C.
“Consequently, the Governor will not be able to honour your invitation on Thursday, December 15, 2022. While the Governor regrets his inability to be physically present for the scheduled briefing, due to the aforementioned national assignment, he shall be available to provide the briefing at the earliest time possible. Please accept, Mr. Honourable Speaker, the assurances of the CBN Governor’s highest personal regards and consideration.”