Supreme Court Rules: Old, new Naira notes to co-exist indefinitely

The Supreme Court has ordered that the old N200, N500, and N1000 notes should continue to co-exist with the new notes until further notice. 

This ruling extends the lifespan of the old notes as valid legal tenders, and was made following an application by the Federal Government, and a seven-member panel led by Justice Inyang Okoro, on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, delivered the judgment. 

The ruling nullifies the previous restriction on the use of the old banknotes and allows them to be used alongside the redesigned currencies indefinitely. The Supreme Court's decision ensures that both the old and new naira notes will remain in circulation beyond initial phase out order of December 31, 2023

The apex court ruled that both old and new notes should continue to remain legal tender until the Federal Government put a process in place for its replacement or redesign after due consultation with relevant stakeholders.

The seven-man panel gave the ruling following an application by the Federal Government asking the court to grant an extension of time for old naira notes to remain in circulation as a legal tender.

The Federal Government also prayed the court to lift its March 3 order noting that the extension of time is necessary as it has not been able to print the volume of new notes that would enable a phase out of the old currency before the December 31 order.

In the fresh application by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Lateef Fagbemi, the Federal Government further explained that should the Supreme Court decline its request to extend the period of circulation of old notes, the country stands the risk of descending into another national, economic and financial crisis as witnessed in the first quarter of the year when the naira redesign policy was being implemented under the former administration of Muhammadu Buhari.

It asked the court to allow the old notes to be in use with the new notes until after it consults with stakeholders, pointing out that the economy may be in jeopardy once again because some Nigerians have started hoarding the old and new naira notes ahead of the December 31st timeline.

In a unanimous decision the seven man panel allowed Fagbemi’s application.

Recall that mid-November, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had said the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes would remain legal tender indefinitely.

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