The Dark Side of Supreme Court’s ruling to Keep Old Naira Notes in Circulation

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The recent Nigerian ruling mandating the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to delay the ban on old naira notes has sparked debates and discussions regarding the decision’s immediate impact on the Nigerian economy and the policy itself.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria temporarily halted any plans to prohibit the use of old naira notes throughout the country.

Wednesday, February 8th, a seven-member panel led by Justice John Okoro issued a ruling in response to an ex parte application filed by the northern states of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara.

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The purpose of the ban on old naira notes was to encourage a cashless policy and reduce the amount of physical currency in circulation. But. The decision of the Supreme Court has now put an end to the ban, and its effects are being felt throughout the economy.

Causing Confusion

Initially, the decision has caused confusion in the banking industry and among the general population. The initial deadline for the ban was February 10, but due to the ruling of the supreme court, the CBN has been prevented from enforcing the ban, leaving many banks and individuals uncertain about the status of the old notes.

Banks are currently uncertain as to whether they should continue accepting old naira notes or prepare for a new deadline.

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People’s reluctance to transact due to the uncertainty surrounding the old currency could reduce economic activity as a result of this confusion.

Furthermore, the postponement of the ban could have an effect on the flow of new naira notes into the economy.

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While the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been working (rather poorly) to distribute the new naira notes to banks, the delay could slow the flow of new notes into the economy.
This could result in a severe shortage of new naira notes, especially in rural areas where bank access is limited and people are still hesitant to hold on to older notes beyond the Supreme Court’s order.
An increase in the scarcity of new currency will make it more difficult for people to conduct business, and this could have a ripple effect on the economy as businesses struggle to operate without sufficient cash in circulation.

Additionally, the decision has had an effect on the CBN’s efforts to promote financial inclusion.

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One of the primary reasons for promoting a cashless policy was to encourage more individuals to open bank accounts and conduct digital transactions.
This would increase the number of individuals who have access to financial services and stimulate the economy.
However, the postponement of the ban could result in additional setbacks for these initiatives, as people will continue to hold onto their old currency, making it less likely that they will open bank accounts and conduct digital transactions.

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Monetary Policy could be impacted: The delay in achieving the goals of the CBN’s monetary policy is another consequence of the supreme court’s decision.

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The CBN has exerted significant effort to reduce the amount of physical currency in circulation and to promote a cashless policy for monetary policy reasons, with an emphasis on reducing inflation.

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The postponement of the ban will delay the achievement of these objectives, which could have long-term effects on the economy.

Inflation rate rose to 21.34 percent in December, the first increase in over two years.

Additionally, the postponement of the prohibition could result in an increase in counterfeiting.

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The old naira notes are more susceptible to counterfeiting, and with the postponement of the ban, the circulation of counterfeit notes is likely to increase.

This could have a negative effect on the economy, as people are less likely to exchange old currency if they suspect it may be counterfeit.

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Independence of the CBN: Finally, the supreme court’s decision has cast doubt on the CBN’s independence, although most critics will argue that it was never independent.

By law, the CBN is an independent body, and its policies are intended to be free of political interference.
Based on an ex-parte injunction, the supreme court’s decision to postpone the ban could be perceived as political interference and could undermine the credibility of the CBN and the policies it implements.

The introduction of new naira notes and the subsequent prohibition of old naira notes have had a significant impact on the Nigerian economy and the CBN’s policy, respectively.

While the Supreme Court’s ruling helps to quell the controversy surrounding the ban, political interference could exacerbate the situation.

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