By Abimbola Ogunnaike
Nigerians have hailed the verdict of Supreme Court for temporarily suspending Friday’s deadline to stop using old banknotes, which had led to a cash crisis across the length and breadth of the country.
Majority of Nigerians interviewed by thegazellenews.com said the verdict has showed that the CBN stand before the latest development is anti-people.
A POS operator in based in Alimosho Local Government in Lagos State, Kehinde Popoola, said in an interview, “I praised the verdict of the Apex court for be on the side of Nigerians. The agonies Nigerians had gone through in the last couple of days were unprecedented. You have your money in bank and you cannot collect it, either the old notes or the new one. Tell me where it has happened in other countries of the world. The verdict is big relief to us”.
A Chieftain of All Progressive Congress (APC) in Alimosho Local Government in Lagos State, Dele Ogundimu, also showered praises on Supreme Court.
“I am very happy over the verdict of the court. It’s the best move. It’ll make things easier for us. They need to release all the old and new naira notes, because the pressure is too much. CBN should have extended the deadline for at least six months and that could have make easy for the new naira notes to circulate well,” Ogundimu said.
A pepper seller, Nimota Salami said, “I hail the verdict of the court. The court has seen what average Nigerians are facing as a result of the deadline by the CBN We have all seen what the CBN deadline had caused to us, the poor masses. We have money in banks, we cannot lay our hands on it. But with the verdict of the court, we can now do our normal transactions. Things will be normal again”.
A university student, Mutiu Ajadi, on his part, said the verdict is a welcome development and a big relief to many Nigerians who are going through hard time as a result of the CBN deadline.
“Our people have suffered greatly due to the incompetence of CBN .Supreme Court did the right thing. The suffering is unbearable. Shortage of new naira notes from banks has led to chaotic scenes as people tried to get their hands on them.
“There were fights at ATMs, protests and mob attacks on commercial banks. The chaos led to concern that it could affect this month’s elections,” Ajadi told thegazellenews.com.
Last week, APC Governors met President Buhari and urged him to rethink the policy. However, Buhari reiterated the deadline, vowing that the government would do “everything” to resolve the issues.
It is estimated that around 60 per cent of Nigeria’s adult population does not have a bank account – especially those living in rural areas.
The CBN said the currency redesign and replacement policy, which was announced in October, would help it tackle inflation, which is currently running at about 21 per cent, by reducing the amount of cash in circulation. It added that 80 per cent of the notes currently in circulation were being held outside financial institutions.
It said that the new notes would be harder to forge and also said it would limit the amount of withdrawals in order to promote a cashless society.
The deadline to stop using the old naira notes was initially 31 January but this was extended until 10 February to give the banks more time to roll out the new notes.
The Supreme Court decision comes after a legal challenge initiated by the APC-run northern states of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara earlier this month.
Their lawyers argued that the government’s policy had led to an “excruciating situation that is almost leading to anarchy in the land”.
The case has been adjourned to 15 February.