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Naira Redesign May Be Declared Illegal In Court – Falana

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, on Sunday faulted the recent endorsement of the naira redesign by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying the policy may be declared illegal in court, Channels Television reports.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on October 26 said it will redesign the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes to take control of the currency in circulation.

Though the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said she wasn’t consulted by the apex bank on the initiative, Buhari backed the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, saying he is fully in support of the policy.

However, Falana, in a statement, said the President is expected to present a money bill to the National Assembly for approval before the actualisation of the policy.

“The official endorsement is not sufficient as the President is mandatorily required to present a Money Bill to the National Assembly for the withdrawal of the billions of Naira from the public fund earmarked for the printing of the new naira notes,” the statement read.

“Specifically, section 59 of the Constitution requires “an appropriation bill or supplementary bill including any other bill for the payment, issue or withdrawal from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation of any money charged thereon or any alteration in the amount of such payment, issue or withdrawal…”

See the full statement below:

PRESIDENTIAL ENDORSEMENT NOT SUFFICIENT TO LEGITIMISE NAIRA REDESIGN

On October 26, 2022, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele announced that the CBN would issue the redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, effective December 15, 2022.  In kicking against the policy, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed claimed that she was not consulted prior to the announcement.

But President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed that he endorsed the redesign of the Naira in line with section 18 of the Central Bank Act. Indeed, the President has since unveiled the re-designed Naira Notes as proposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

However, the official endorsement is not sufficient as the President is mandatorily required to present a Money Bill to the National Assembly for the withdrawal of the billions of Naira from public fund earmarked for the printing of the new Naira notes.

Specifically, section 59 of the Constitution requires “an appropriation bill or supplementary bill including any other bill for the payment, issue or withdrawal from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation of any money charged thereon thereon or any alteration in the amount of such payment, issue or withdrawal…”

Since the fund for the printing of the new Naira notes is not captured in the 2022 Appropriation Bill the President is advised to prepare and present a supplementary bill to the National Assembly to authorize the withdrawal of public funds from any Account of the Federation for printing the new Naira notes. Otherwise, the printing of the new Naira without appropriation by the National Assembly may be declared illegal and unconstitutional if it is challenged in a court of competent jurisdiction.

Femi Falana SAN

Chair, Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB)

4th December 2022

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