Naira crisis: Obey Supreme Court order, APC govs, party’s NWC beg Buhari  

 With barely five days to the February 25 Presidential/National Assembly elections, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to comply with the interim order of the Supreme Court directing parties to maintain the status quo with regards to the Naira redesign policy of the apex bank.

This resolution came after a meeting of the APC state governors, the National Working Committee (NWC) and its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; which held Sunday at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.

Tinubu stormed in midway into the meeting at about 5:15pm.

No small chaos has popped up nationwide following the president’s announcement Thursday in a broadcast that only old N200 notes would  remain legal tender until April 10. 

All old N500 and N1000 notes, Buhari said must be returned to deposit banks before February 17, 2023, the adjusted deadline he had approved in Daura, Katsina, on January 30. 

Buhari’s announcement came despite a pending Supreme Court order restraining the federal government from effecting the deadline.

APC/Govs’ meeting

But rising from the meeting in Abuja, the party leadership specifically asked President Buhari to urgently intervene and halt the current sufferings of the people.

Governors Nasir el-Rufai, Yahaya Bello and Bello Matawalle had earlier taken the federal government to the Supreme Court seeking an injunction to suspend the Naira swap policy of the CBN which has caused Nigerians untold hardship.

Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, APC national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu said: “I am sure you are quite aware of the fact that a meeting comprising of APC governors was held today and the leadership of the NWC of our great party was summoned for this afternoon and we had discussions and at the end of the discussions, we have resolved as follows and this resolution is without prejudice whatsoever to the case that is lying at the Supreme Court at this point in time. This has to do with the issue of currency redesign.

“We note very seriously that the programme and its implementation is causing tremendous difficulties to the people of Nigeria and to the national economy.

“That, we urge the Attorney General of the Federation and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to respect the Supreme Court order of interim injunction which is still subsisting.

“That the meeting is urging His Excellency, Mr President to intervene in resolving issues that are causing these great difficulties to the economy.”

Earlier in his opening remarks, Adamu said: “I am happy with the response so far and it is my understanding that more of our members are still on their way coming.

“You will recall the recent developments that have necessitated the need for this invitation.

“We do not want to sit in judgment on anybody with regards to where we are today in the country as it affects our great party. 

“I thought the best thing to do is to get all those who are holding forth in their respective positions and who were elected on the platform of the party to get together and have some interaction so that we can have a better understanding of what situation we are in.

“That is the essence of this invitation. And it is my pleasure to welcome you most sincerely to this interaction,” Adamu said at the opening session.

PGF chair

Also speaking, Chairman Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Kebbi state Governor Atiku Bagudu said all the parties at the meeting endorsed the resolution.

He said: “We are on the same page. The APC Governors Forum, the NWC is one party. We are all together. 

“The chairman said the governors and the party are one and the same and I am very proud about the conduct of our campaigns by our presidential candidate under the able leadership of our party led by Abdullahi Adamu and the DG of the Campaign Council and the governors alongside all our APC candidates across the country who have been doing a tremendous job of mobilizing Nigerians.”

7 govs absent

Seven governors of the ruling party were absent at the emergency meeting.

The meeting which began at 2:35pm was convened to discuss  issues relating to the party’s state of preparedness for Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly Elections vis-a-vis the worsening scarcity of the Naira and lingering fuel shortages  fuelling mass discontent across the country.

The absentee-governors are Professor Babagana Umara Zulum (Borno), Professor Ben Ayade (Cross River), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq (Kwara), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo).

Governors Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina) and Hope Uzodinma (Imo) however sent their deputies.

Those who attended the meeting were Simon Bako Lalong (Plateau), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) and Yahaya Bello (Kogi).

Others are Mohammed Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), Biodun Oyebanji (Ekiti), Babajide Sanwo-olu (Lagos), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and Mohammed Badaru (Jigawa).

el-Rufai directs MDAs

In a related development, Kaduna state Governor Nasir el-Rufai has directed all the state ministries, departments and agencies to continue accepting payments  for services from citizens in all denominations of the old and new naira notes.

It however warned against breakdown of law and order in the state, saying any form of protest is prohibited across the state.

A statement by the special adviser to Governor Nasir el-Rufai on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye, said the directive was issued in compliance with a subsisting Supreme Court order, which allows continued use of all the old naira notes.

He said: “In line with the subsisting order of the Supreme Court, the Kaduna state government has directed its ministries, departments and agencies to ensure that their collection agents continue to accept payments made in all denominations of the naira, old and new.

“The laws of Kaduna state do not allow personnel of government agencies to be involved in cash collection of revenues. The collection agents authorised by state government agencies do offer citizens a route for cash payment, and they are expected to comply with the subsisting court order.”

Also, Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs in the state, Samuel Aruwan, said the state government received credible intelligence reports of plans by various groups to deliberately disrupt public peace by organising street protests. 

He reminded citizens that such protests remain strictly prohibited, adding that citizens are strongly advised to avoid all actions remotely capable of inciting a breakdown of law and order. 

Speaking in a statement, Aruwan said: “The government continues to empathise with citizens who have been placed in untold distress as a result of the CBN cash swap policy.” 

EFCC denies raid on Tinubu’s home 

In a related development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has debunked media reports that its operatives raided the home of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

In a press statement by the EFCC Head Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, in Abuja Sunday, the anti-graft body also denied report that its operatives recovered N400 billion at the Lagos politician’s home during the alleged raid.

Some online reports claimed President Muhammadu Buhari ordered EFCC to raid Tinubu’s house during which N400 billion of the new naira notes were recovered in his underground house.

Debunking the reports however, the statement said: “The attention of the EFCC has been drawn to a report circulating in the social media, claiming that operatives of the Commission raided the home of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, standard-bearer of the APC in the forthcoming presidential elections and recovered a humongous sum of N400 billion.

“The Commission wishes to state that no such operation was carried out by the EFCC. The public is enjoined to disregard the report as fake news.”

…APC – PCC too

Similarly, the APC Campaign Council also debunked the EFCC raid on Asiwaju’s residence and called for the arrest of the publishers for libel.

A statement signed by the Director of PCC Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, also noted that the campaign council discovered the rogue website was set up to disseminate false and malicious information concerning their principal. 

Onanuga frowned at the story, which he said lacked the essential of “when, where and how” to make up the ingredients of any news story.

While applauding the EFCC for promptly dissociating itself from the fake story by issuing a formal statement on the purported raid by its men, the former managing director of News Agency of Nigeria urged security agencies in the country to go after the owners.

He said: “We urge the authorities to fish out the people behind the site, that is recklessly dishing out fake news, before more damage is done to our polity. We want to warn Nigerians to be wary of every piece of news emanating from the site, and its social media handles. 

“There will be many of such sites as some candidates become desperate to win at all costs, in fulfilment of some rogue and rigged opinion polls by ANAP Foundation and Nextier, shunning all decent norms and rules.

“The dubious website, in its fake story, claimed investigations are still ongoing as to which bank manager made such money available to Tinubu, it then admitted its own absurdity when it wrote that “the money recovered in Tinubu’s “underground house” is equivalent of “the entire money printed for the whole Nigeria” by the CBN.

 “So, if Tinubu alone has all the money printed by Godwin Emefiele’s CBN, how do you account for the billions distributed by the apex bank to all the banks, including operators of POS? The site, on which Twitter and Facebook appear to have links with the Labour Party, went further in another post, to claim that President Muhammadu has ordered the arrest of the bank manager that made the phantom money available to the APC candidate. 

“It is out to misinform and mislead our people and disseminate malicious information on Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the run up to the 25 February election, which the opposition candidates, including Peter Obi of Labour Party, are bound to lose. We are not surprised that the opposition has embarked on sponsoring a website and social media handles, whose owners are unknown and which lacks physical address or even an email.”

Police caution

Also, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has warned against divisive, crisis-triggering utterances on the naira swap crisis. 

A press statement by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, Saturday in Abuja, said: “Amidst the prevailing outcries and reactions on the new naira policy in the country, the NPF has deemed it necessary to caution groups and individuals against divisive comments and utterances capable of heating up the polity and triggering crisis in the nation.

“This call is highly imperative as the Police perceive the reactions and utterances of certain groups and individuals as an attempt to heat up the polity and spontaneously instigate the populace against the government and its policies for their peculiar interests and gains.

“The NPF, therefore, charges the citizenry of Nigeria to remain calm and embrace peace as the Federal Government has assured that it is taking the bull by the horn, assiduously to address the scarcity of naira and fuel and restore normalcy in all sectors.”

Similarly, he urged Nigerians to desist from any act of violence, hooliganism, and vandalism that may jeopardise the ongoing electoral process, which is significant and critical in the transitional advancement of democracy in Nigerial.

The Police assured the general public that it was working in concert with defence, security, and intelligence agencies to provide a peaceful environment for all citizens to conduct their socio-economic activities.

Buhari appeals for calm

Amidst the hardship and crisis that has trailed the naira swap controversy, President Buhari has appealed for more patience from Nigerians.

Buhari, who said he is fully aware of the hardship, argued that the policy is meant to improve Nigeria’s economy.

“I am appealing to you to exercise further patience as we take appropriate measures to ease these hardships. God willing, there will be light at the end of the tunnel,” Buhari said in a video recording from Ethiopia where he attended the just-concluded African Union summit. 

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu revealed this in a statement Sunday titled: ‘In a video to sway voters for Tinubu President Buhari vows end to current hardship.’

About Bode Olagoke/Chizoba Ogbeche/Abdullahi M. Gulloma, Abuja and AbdulRaheem Aodu, Kaduna

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