From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, has refused to stop the new cash withdrawal policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Rather, Justice Chizoba Oriji granted an order for accelerated hearing of the motion on notice filed on behalf of 20 million unbanked Nigerian citizens.
Those who filed the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/724/2022 for themselves and on behalf of 20 million unbanked Nigerian citizens are, Adamu Sarki, Shekwoyi Gaza; Philip Tanko; Victor Okoro and Ismaila Ibrahim.
The rest are Mohammed Rabo; Yunusa Musa Gani; Helen Luka; Suleiman Yusuf and Adamu Gaidam Asu.
Listed as respondents are the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
In an exparte motion moved by their counsel, P. A Obu, the applicants prayed the Court to grant injunctions restraining the Respondents from proceeding with the January 31, 2023 deadline of the use of the current N200, N500 and N1,000 notes as it affects the applicants without any realistic plans or workable guidelines to cover the over 20 million unbanked Nigerians who are vulnerable to information and the use of technologically driven platform without the possibility of financial inclusion.
They prayed for another injunction restraining the Respondents from implementation of the revised cash withdrawal limiting the maximum cash withdrawal over the counter (OTC) by individuals and corporate organizations per week to N100, 000 and N500, 000respectively which is a violation of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition Act, 2002 and which also constitutes a flagrant violation of the fundamental rights of the applicants as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
Furthermore they asked the Court to grant an order for accelerated hearing to the Suit and also an order for substituted service on the parties while also praying for the order of court mandating the CBN to produce a detailed plan and guidelines covering the over 20 million unbanked citizens who are vulnerable to the use of telecommunication and technologically driven money platforms.
Justice Oriji having listened to the counsel to the applicants refused the prayers for injunction but rather directed that all the respondents be put on notice to come and show cause why the order for injunction should not be granted against them.
The judge thereafter adjourned the matter to January 10, 2023 after granting orders for accelerated hearing and substituted service.