President Muhammadu Buhari has said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) does not need his directives before it complies with the Supreme Court ruling which extended the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes to December 31, 2023.
Buhari broke silence on Monday over penultimate Friday’s decision of the Supreme Court which ruled that the old notes remain legal tender till the end of the year.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said President Muhammadu Buhari never told Attorney General, Abubakar Malami and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to defy the Supreme Court order.
The President also rejected the impression that he lacked compassion, saying that “no government in our recent history has introduced policies to help economically marginalised and vulnerable groups like the present administration.”
The Presidency added that that President Buhari had not done anything “knowingly and deliberately to interfere with or obstruct the administration of justice”, following the ongoing intense debate about the compliance concerning the legality of the old currency notes.
The statement read: “The Presidency wishes to react to some 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, and states here plainly and clearly that 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 and the commitment of his administration to this principle has not changed….
“The President is not a micromanager and will not, therefore, stop the Attorney General and the CBN Governor from performing the details of their duties in accordance with the law. In any case. it is debatable at this time if there is proof of willful denial by the two of them on the orders of the apex court.
“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.
“It is an established fact that the President is an absolute respecter of 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 lack of confidence in the administration of justice, or otherwise interfere or corrupt the courts and there is no reason whatsoever that he should do so now when he is getting ready to leave office.
“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.
“As for the cashless system the CBN 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.
“It is therefore wide off the mark to blame the President 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.”