Tope Alabi, an activist lawyer based in Lagos, has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos for permission to file contempt proceedings against Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for allegedly disregarding the Supreme Court’s judgments over the CBN’s currency reform strategy.
On March 27, Alabi submitted the request as an ex parte motion in the lawsuit, designating Emefiele as the only respondent.
He referred to the naira exchange as a “cash confiscation program” and asserted that it had a detrimental effect on how his office was managed on a daily basis since his employees were unable to carry actual currency to work. Commercial drivers “do not have point of sale (POS) device/machine to collect fares,” according to Alabi.
The lawyer filed a 28-page affidavit in support of his application wherein he claimed that the Supreme Court on March 10, in Suit No. SC. 162/2023, “directed Emefiele to make available and allow the old naira notes of N200, N500 and N1000 to co-exist as legal tender with the new N200, N500 and N1000 notes till December 2023.”
“The respondent who had withdrawn N200, N500 and 1000 old notes from circulation on 10 February 2023 has refused to comply with the Order of the Supreme Court made on 10 March 2023 till date by releasing the old notes to circulation.”
Emefiele’s initial non-compliance to the Supreme Court Order, according to Alabi, “has damaged my job as a legal practitioner since I could not have access to daily physical currency to carry out my business and meet modest daily expenses.”
“That I brought this application to seek leave to enforce the Supreme Court Order being a non-party to the suit at the Supreme Court,” the lawyer noted in the suit.
Over the weekend, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) confirmed the evacuation of banknotes from its vaults to commercial banks across the country as part of a coordinated effort to ease the circulation of banknotes of various denominations.