LAGOS, NIGERIA – Lagos-based activist-lawyer Tope Alabi has filed an application with the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking permission to initiate contempt proceedings against Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, for alleged disobedience of Supreme Court orders regarding the naira redesign policy.
Mr Alabi submitted the ex parte motion on March 27, with Emefiele listed as the sole respondent in the suit.
Alabi described the naira swap as a “cash confiscation policy,” claiming that it had significantly impacted the daily operations of his office, as his staff could not make it to work due to the scarcity of physical cash. He noted that commercial drivers in the country “do not have point of sale (POS) devices/machines to collect fares.”
In a 28-page affidavit supporting his application, Alabi alleged that on March 10, in Suit No. SC. 162/2023, the Supreme Court “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 until December 2023.”
According to Alabi, the CBN had withdrawn the old N200, N500, and N1000 notes from circulation on February 10, 2023, but has failed to comply with the Supreme Court order to reintroduce them.
The activist lawyer claimed that the CBN’s alleged non-compliance with the Supreme Court order has adversely affected his work as a legal practitioner, limiting his access to daily physical cash to carry out his job and meet daily expenses.
Alabi applied to seek leave to enforce the Supreme Court order, despite not being a party to the suit at the Supreme Court.
If the court grants Alabi’s request, it could lead to further legal complications for the CBN and its governor, with potential consequences for the ongoing naira redesign policy.