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*Ganduje, Akeredolu head to Supreme Court over swap deadline, withdrawal limits

*Lawan: No need for swap time limit 

*Obaseki prohibits use of cash in Edo govt offices from March 1

The National Council of State (NCS) has tasked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make the new Naira notes available or recirculate the old Naira notes to ease the current suffering of Nigerians.
The CBN had in October 2022 announced the redesign of N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, and asked Nigerians to deposit their old notes before January 31, 2023 when they would cease to be legal tender.
The deadline was shifted to February 10 following difficulties obtaining the new notes.
Thereafter, governors of Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi states dragged the federal government and the CBN to the Supreme Court over the time limit, and the court gave an interim order suspending the February 10 deadline.

It also emerged yesterday that the governors of Kano and Ondo states, Abdullahi Ganduje, Rotimi Akeredolu, respectively, have approached the Supreme Court over the swap deadline, withdrawal limits.
Rising from its maiden hybrid meeting in 2023 yesterday, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Council, however, expressed its support for the government’s new monetary policy, but tasked the apex bank to take urgent steps to arrest the scarcity of cash plaguing the country.
These resolutions, at the end of the meeting held at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja, were made known to newsmen by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, alongside the governors of Lagos and Taraba states, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Darius Ishaku, respectively, and Media Adviser to the President, Femi Adesina.

Malami said the two major issues deliberated by the Council members were the level of preparedness for the upcoming general elections, stating that both the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Alkali Baba, had assured of adequate readiness.
According to him, the briefing on the new monetary policy, including the re-designing of some categories of the naira, elicited reactions and opinions, adding that the conclusion was that the CBN should do more to ensure there was circulation of adequate cash in the system to alleviate the harsh realities trailing the policy.
Malami said: “So by way of conclusion, the two major resolutions that were driven, arriving from the deliberations of the Council, are one that we are on course as far as election is concerned and we are happy with the level of preparation by INEC and the institutions.

“Two, relating to the naira re-designed policy, the policy stands, but then the Council agreed that there is need for aggressive action on the part of the Central Bank, as it relates to the implementation of the policy by way of ensuring adequate provision being made with regard to the supply of the naira in the system.”
Shedding more light on the proceedings of the meeting, Governor Ishaku disclosed that the most contentious issue was the cash scarcity, which had led to protests in some parts of the country, as a result of the hardships that had attended the new cash-swap policy of the CBN.
He said the Council advised the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, to make the re-designed naira denominations of N1,000, N500 and N200 available by printing more or if printing would be difficult, the apex bank should re-circulate the old notes.
Ishaku said: “The INEC Chairman briefed the Council of State on their preparedness for the election on the 25th of this month and that of the 11th of next month that they are fully prepared. “Also, the Inspector-General of Police briefed the Council that they are equally prepared for the election and both of them gave us the details of their preparedness.

“Lastly was the Governor of the Central Bank, who briefed us on the monetary change and the monetary issues that have arisen across the whole states in the Federation and to give us the merits of that policy that was implemented.
“Basically, what took more time was that of the monetary issue because of the hardship of money in circulation across the whole states. Generally, the view across the board is that principally the policy is accepted.

“Just like any new policy or any new change, at the beginning people resist it, even though it’s good, but generally it’s accepted. But the major issue across the board, from all the states and most of the speakers, is that of implementation. So many views were proffered, particularly that the CBN governor should look into making sure that the new money is available in quantum.
“There were suggestions too that if the new money is not in circulation or printing them could be difficult, the old money that hasn’t been changed could be re-circulated and pumped into circulation to ease the tension, particularly for the poor people in our society, who’ll just need a little sum of money to buy their food, buy their drugs, on daily basis and they cannot even afford it.

“So the pains and the sentiments across the country are being expressed by different governors, my colleagues, and I think, collectively, all these ideas, Mr. President was present, are to proffer solutions and advices to Mr. President and he was there physically, he was present, so I’m sure that after this meeting, a lot of things will be done, particularly in easing the monetary tension in the society.”
Also speaking after a separate meeting with the President, President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, said he informed President Buhari that the National Assembly had resolved that there should be no cap on currency swap policies because of the way the scenario is now playing out and how it impacts the constituents.

According to him: “For us in the Senate, initially we felt that this policy, in the first place, is not a bad one, but we also feel there is no need for a time limit. Allow the old and the new to co-exist until the old is phased out. So, what is wrong with that? This is not going to be the first country to deploy it that way, other countries have been doing the same thing and to say that in three months it will be okay, it is not okay, especially in a country like ours, where maybe 80, 85, 90 per cent of the population have no access to banks.
“When Britain changed their currency, it took them over a year to change and the validity of the old remained a legal tender, so why ours? We are not cashless yet and that society is cashless already and they needed even more time.
“So, we should have an open-ended time, but what will make it quick is for us to have more and more of the new currencies and then they co-exist with the old ones until the old dies a natural death.”

The Council of State is an organ of the federal government saddled with the responsibility of advising the executive on policy making.
The council, which has the President as Chairman and Vice President as Deputy Chairman, has all former presidents and Heads of State, all former Chief Justices of Nigeria, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, all state governors and Attorney-General of the Federation, as members.
Yesterday’s meeting of the Council was attended by former Heads of State, Generals Yakubu Gowon and Abdulsalami Abubakar, as well as former President Godluck Jonathan.
The hybrid meeting had former President Olusegun Obasanjo joining virtually.
About 14 governors also attended the meeting both physically and virtually with some represented by their deputy governors.
Others in attendance included Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, two former Chief Justices of Nigeria, President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila.

Kano, Ondo states Sue FG, CBN

Meanwhile, the Ondo State Government has filed a suit against the federal government at the Supreme Court over the CBN’s directives on cash withdrawal limits.
The Ondo government asked the apex court to stop the implementation of the policy.
In an originating summon filed and signed by the Attorney-General of the state, Mr. Charles Titiloye, the government prayed the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the directive issued by the federal government through the CBN on limitation of daily cash withdrawals from banks which, it said, had totally paralysed the activities of Ondo State and has adversely affected economic and commercial activities in the state.

The statement issued by the Special Assistant to the AG, Kola Adeniyi, said, “The Ondo State Government contended that the guideline on daily maximum cash withdrawal made by the federal government is an infraction on the legal rights of Ondo State Government and its citizens to access funds for execution of developmental projects, small credit facilities to petty traders (who have no account in banks) and highly detrimental to daily commercial activities in the state.
“Ondo State Government urged the Supreme Court to declare that the federal government cannot by directive issued through Central Bank of Nigeria, amend or vary an existing Act of National Assembly, particularly Section 2 of Money Laundering Act, which relates specifically to limitations on cash withdrawals for individual and corporate organisation to N5 million and N10 million respectively. The updated guidelines issued by CBN now place maximum withdrawal for individual and corporate organisations at N500,000 and N5 million respectively.

“Ondo State Government is asking the Supreme Court to decide whether the guidelines issued by the federal government on maximum daily cash withdrawal and the continuous suffering and hardship caused by the implementation of the said policy is not in conflict with the express provision of Section 2 of the Money Laundering Act, Sections 20, 39 and 42 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act.
“Ondo State Government averred that while it has more than 149 ministries, departments and agencies to run on daily basis in a state with more than three million people, less than 500,000 people have bank accounts through which bank transfer can be made. Consequently, the policy of the Federal Government has totally paralysed the economy of the state.

“Ondo State Government averred that the citizens of Ondo State now spend precious hours at bank ATMs waiting to collect the new naira notes, while citizens in the rural areas and villages without banks and Internet facilities have been shut out from receiving or transferring money to meet their daily economic needs.”
The government urged the apex court to intervene and stop further implementation of the said federal government policy.
Also, the Kano State Government on Thursday filed a suit against the federal government at the Supreme Court in respect of the naira redesign policy of the CBN.
The Kano State Attorney General, through his Counsel, Sunusi Musa, SAN, is asking the apex court to declare that President Buhari cannot unilaterally direct the CBN to recall the now-old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes without recourse to the Federal Executive Council and National Economic Council, respectively.

The Kano government is praying for a mandatory order seeking a reversal of the federal government policy to recall the N200, N500 and N1,000 notes from circulation due to the policy affecting the economic well-being of over 20 million Kano citizens.
The applicant is also seeking for a mandatory order, compelling the federal government to reverse the naira redesign policy for alleged failure to comply with the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The applicant is similarly praying the apex court to compel the federal government to reverse the cash swap policy for allegedly not complying with the 1999 constitution and other extant legislation.

Obaseki Prohibits Use of Cash in Govt Offices from March 1

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has said beginning from March 1, 2023, the state government will prohibit the use of cash in government offices.
The governor disclosed this during a Code of Ethics engagement with senior management staff of the Edo State civil/Public Service, as part of the state government’s transformation enhancement programme (Edo STEP), held at the Government House, in Benin City.
He said, “I have issued a circular that effective March 1st, government offices will be prohibited from using cash. The government is pushing toward a cashless economy. So, why must the service dodge transparency? We should be able to explain every amount we spend and how we earned it.”

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The Zamfara State Police Command has paraded 21 suspects for various criminal offences, including banditry, kidnapping, theft and vandalisation, among others.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the command, SP Mohammed Shehu, said 17 of the suspects took part in post-election violence that led to the vandalisation and looting of public and private properties, including All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign offices across the state capital.

Items recovered are two semi-silent generators belonging to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Gusau; two standing refrigerator; vandalised doors; windows, tables, chairs, electric wires and different calibres of electronics, couches, 40 pieces of women’s wrappers, burglar-proof for windows and pillar reinforcement rods.

It could be recalled that police detectives led by the Commissioner of Police, Kolo Yusuf, had earlier arrested 40 suspects, recovered some of the looted items and vandalised property worth millions of naira which were displayed, and later charged the suspects to court and thereafter, remanded them in prison.

The police command in Zamfara also arrested a “wanted” notorious bandit accused of terrorising the state and environs.

The suspect, a male aged 25, was arrested by police tactical operatives on patrol who acted on intelligence.

According to the police, the suspect was already on the wanted list of the police for banditry, kidnapping and other heinous crimes.

“In the course of investigation, the suspect confessed of series of attacks and kidnapping on different communities in Zamfara State where millions of Naira collected as ransom from the relations. The suspect who further confessed of bearing GPMG during their operations, mentioned some of his allied which the police detectives is working assiduously to arrest. Discreet Investigation is ongoing,” the police said.

The command also arrested two suspects in connection with possession of 22 rustled livestock.

The suspects, aged 31 and 55, were reportedly arrested when the police were on patrol. Acting on intelligence information, they said to have intercepted and arrested three Toyota buses loaded with suspected stolen cows, sheep and goat from Dansadau to Gusau.

On sighting the police, the suspects attempted to abandon the vehicles and exhibits to escape, but they were rounded up and arrested by the police operatives, the authorities said.

“Suspects are currently undergoing discreet Investigation that will lead to the arrest of their collaborators before being charged to court for prosecution,” the PPRO added.

The Commissioner of Police, Kolo Yusuf, while applauding the people of Zamfara State for their unalloyed support and partnership, tasked them to sustain the synergy with the police and other security agencies for effective service delivery.

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The Department of State Services has said the embattled self-acclaimed Eze Igbo of Ajao Estate, Lagos State, Chief Fredrick Nwajagu, will be transferred to Abuja from the Lagos holding facility.

A security source at the DSS Headquarters, Abuja, who craved anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, disclosed this to Sunday PUNCH.

In an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday night, the source said, “He is in our custody in Lagos. We expect him to be taken to Abuja. He may not be alone.

“We have said before that there are people who are threatening the peace of the nation. The country will not allow anyone to plunge it into avoidable crisis.”

Sunday PUNCH reports that Nwajagu was arrested during a raid by a joint team of policemen and operatives of the DSS on Saturday.

A source within the Force, who preferred to be anonymous, told Sunday PUNCH that the Igbo leader had been arrested.

“A team of police and DSS went to his palace but he had already fled. He was later traced to a hotel in Ejigbo where he was arrested,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the state police spokesperson, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the arrest, adding that the chief had been handed over to the DSS for further action over his inciting comments.

He said, “Yes, he (Fredrick) has been arrested and is currently in the custody of the DSS. They are in charge of anything associated with terrorism.”

In a now-viral video sighted by one of our correspondents, Nwajagu, speaking in a mixture of Igbo and English, had issued a threat to invite members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra to secure the property of Igbo people in the state.

He said, “We must have our security so that they will stop attacking us at midnight, in the morning and the afternoon.

“When they discover that we have our security, they will think twice before attacking us. I am not saying a single word to be hidden.”

He also charged the public to make his claims go viral.

Reacting, the leadership of the Lagos State chapter of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide said the comments made by Nwajagu did not represent the ideals of the Igbo people in Lagos.

The President of the socio-cultural group, Chief Solomon Ogbonna-Aguene, said the detained chief would be made to face the music alone, adding that he spoke out of his interest.

“He (Igbo leader) did not discuss his statement with any of us. The comments are his personal decisions and for his personal interests. Ohanaeze does not support such comment as its views.

“There are some comments that should not be heard from us as a socio-cultural organisation. We are supposed to be apolitical.

“We are not in support of what Chief Fredrick said. For him to mention that he is going to bring IPOB to Lagos is completely unnecessary. No Igbo person will support such arrangement. So, he is the one that will answer for himself. Let him go and face the music,” he said.

Ogbonna-Aguene explained that Igbo people had not found things easy with IPOB even in the South-East, stating that it was unfair for Nwajagu to threaten to invite the group to Lagos.

“Why then should he bring it up here in Lagos? If he wants to speak to IPOB, he should have met with them in his personal capacity, not as Eze Igbo. Who gave him the power to speak on Igbo interest,” Ogbonna-Aguene queried.

When contacted, the Chairman, Supreme Council of Ndi-Eze, Lagos State, Mr Omega Lawrence, said Nwajagu was not an Eze in Lagos.

“He is not a member of the Council of Eze. That is the truth. He is just our brother and his statements are unfortunate, but we cannot deny him. I condemn the statement in its entirety. We are not part of it,” Lawrence added.

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Osun-State Map

Members of the Muslim community in Ile-Ife, Osun State, on Friday, staged a protest following the alleged invasion of a mosque in the Ilare area by some Oro adherents.

The protesters said on Thursday, the traditionalists entered the mosque, where some Muslims had gathered to observe the 4pm prayers, and attacked those they found in the building.

Beside the chief imam of the mosque, Abdul-Lateef Adediran, who was reportedly injured in the face, five other worshippers were allegedly stabbed during the attack.

An eyewitness, who identified himself only as Kareem for security reasons, said, “We were in the mosque to pray. Some people were performing ablution when the Oro worshippers entered the mosque.

“We were aware that they would be going around with Oro and we didn’t meddle in their affairs. They had passed through the area. They later returned and entered the mosque.

“The imam was trying to ask what their mission was, but they didn’t even allow him to talk before they started beating every one of us. Six people were stabbed. Our imam sustained injuries on his face. All those injured were taken to hospitals in Ile-Ife.”

During the Friday protest, the protesters, who moved through major streets in the town, visited the palace of the Ooni of Ife, but the royal father was not available.

They demanded the arrest of those behind the attack.

One of the protesters, Tajudeen Adesiyan, who spoke to journalists, said a petition had been written to the police, adding that the worshippers also came under a similar attack in November last year.

The spokesperson for the Osun State Police Command, Yemisi Opalola, said normalcy had returned while investigation would continue to ascertain the remote and immediate causes of the incident.

The spokesperson for the Ooni, Moses Olafare, said the Ife traditional council was on top of the matter.

“The leadership of the Muslim community in Ife is also involved in the peace meeting currently ongoing. Muslims, traditionalists and Christians living in the town have been cohabitating in peace for centuries.

“Baba Ooni is calling on all those involved to allow peace to reign. Security agents, leaders of the traditionalists and the leadership of the Muslim community are meeting to address the issue,” Olafare added.


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