By Marcus Ikechukwu
The Presidency has broken its perceived silence on the cold war between the Supreme Court and the Central Bank over the crisis associated with the cash swap policy.
Recall that following the Supreme Court Judgement allowing the N500 and N1000 old notes to circulate side by side with the new notes till December 31st, 2023, there had been reluntance by the apex regulatory bank to comply with the directive.
Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President broke the silence on behalf of his principal, on Monday, when he said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has no reason not to comply with the Supreme Court Orders merely on the excuse that the President must issue a directive.
Buhari further carpeted the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, insisting it is wide off the mark to blame him( Buhari) for the current controversy over the cash scarcity, despite the Supreme Court judgement.
According to the presidency, the CBN had no reason not to abide by court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President.
Shehu said, the presidency wishes to react to some public concerns that President Muhammadu Buhari did not react to the Supreme Court judgement on the issue of the N500 and N1,000 old currency notes, and states here plainly and clearly that at no time did he instruct the Attorney General and the CBN Governor to disobey any court orders involving the government and other parties.
The presidential spokesman also noted that since the President was sworn into office in 2015, he has never directed anybody to defy court orders, in the strong belief that we can’t practise democracy without the rule of law and the commitment of his administration to this principle has not changed.
“Following the ongoing intense debate about the compliance concerning the legality of the old currency notes, the Presidency therefore wishes to state clearly that President Buhari has not done anything knowingly and deliberately to interfere with or obstruct the administration of justice.
“The President is not a micromanager and will not, therefore, stop the Attorney General and the CBN Governor from performing the details of their duties in accordance with the law. In any case. it is debatable at this time if there is proof of willful denial by the two of them on the orders of the apex court.
“The directive of the President, following the meeting of the Council of State is that the Bank must make available for circulation all the money that is needed and nothing has happened to change the position.
“It is an established fact that the President is an absolute respecter of judicial process and the authority of the courts. He has done nothing in the last eight or so years to act in any way to obstruct the administration of justice, cause lack of confidence in the administration of justice, or otherwise interfere or corrupt the courts and there is no reason whatsoever that he should do so now when he is getting ready to leave office.
“The negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators is unfair and unjust, as no court order at any level has been issued or directed at him.
“As for the cashless system the CBN is determined to put in place, it is a known fact that many of the country’s citizens who bear the brunt of the sufferings, surprisingly support the policy as they believe that the action would cut corruption, fight terrorism, build an environment of honesty and reinforce the incorruptible leadership of the President.
“President Buhari has also rejected the impression that he lacks compassion, saying that “no government in our recent history has introduced policies to help economically marginalised and vulnerable groups like the present administration.”