Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has stated that President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent naira redesign and endorsement may be declared illegal in court.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced on October 26 that it would redesign the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes to regain control of the currency in circulation. The central bank recently unveiled the redesigned notes ahead of a Federal Executive Council meeting (FEC) meeting.
However, Falana said in a statement on Sunday that the President is expected to present a money bill to the National Assembly for approval before the policy is implemented.
He stated that Buhari’s official endorsement is insufficient because the President is required to present a Money Bill to the National Assembly to withdraw billions of Naira from the public fund designated for printing new naira notes.
Section 59 of the Constitution, according to Falana, requires “an appropriation bill or supplementary bill, including any other bill for the payment, issue, or withdrawal of any money charged thereon from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, or any alteration in the amount of such payment, issue, or withdrawal…”
The statement reads:
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 insufficient as the President is 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)