By Yusuf Yunus
Stakeholders in the energy sector have expressed divergent views on the Supreme Court judgment over extension of the use of old Naira notes till Dec. 31.
They expressed their different views in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos.
NAN reports that the Supreme Court on Friday ordered that the old N200, N500, N1,000 notes remain legal tender and would be in circulation till Dec. 31.
Mr Emmanuel Iheanacho, Chairman, Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd., said the Supreme Court judgement came too soon after the just concluded Presidential and National election, held on Feb. 25.
“It does seem mighty peculiar that the reported Supreme Court ruling has come at a time so soon after the conclusion of the 2023 general elections.
“Is the earlier withdrawal of those monetary tenders from circulation related to the dynamics of our political practice?
“This is a question that will definitely agitate the minds of keen political observers,” he opined.
Dr Ayodele Oni, Partner, Bloomfield Law Practice, said it was instructive to note that the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction was clear and unequivocal.
According to him, the dispute is not within the purview of that original jurisdiction.
“To purport to act thereupon is to perpetuate abuse of court process and to set a bad precedent for the future.
“Now, all policies and actions which are politically unpopular or which affect politicians, will be construed to be within the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction.
“For instance, INEC’s alleged non-compliance with the IReV has now gone to the apex court, being a dispute between the Federal Government and the dissatisfied politicians, occupying governorship seats, which ordinarily should amount to an abuse of court process,” he said.
He, however, said that the decision could later be used as precedent.
“Notwithstanding the foregoing, in light of the CBN’s mopping of old notes and given that the CBN was not joined in the suit in the Supreme Court, it is not, as of now, obliged to obey the ruling.
“I wonder as to whether this ruling is not in itself nugatory.
“It is instructive to note that today, March 3, in a similarly absurd case, the Supreme Court made the very disturbing finding that CBN is an agent and need not be joined before its policy would be brought before the apex court,” Oni noted.
Mr Mike Osatuyi, National Operations Controller of the independent Petroleum Marketers Association of (IPMAN), on his part, commended the Supreme Court ruling.
Osatuyi, however, said that lPMAN’s members would abide by the court order, but would “await Federal Government’s directive”.
“For we at IPMAN, we are law abiding marketers and we are ready for whatever the directives are.
“The order has just been passed, let’s await government’s reaction before taking any further actions,” he said.
Also, Mr Sina Odugbemi, the National Coordinator of Where ls The Light, said that the Supreme Court did not make mistake by pushing its pronouncement after the presidential elections.
According to Odugbemi, there are different meanings to read into the judgment.
“We had elections last week and we saw the results; we are going to witness another one next week, and the difference will be clear.
“The role money play in elections will be made very clear. If there is any lesson, this will be number one lesson.
“The whole sufferings brought on the common man is gone down the drain because the policy has failed to fully achieve its goal.
“The failure of the objective also underscore the challenge of changing the old order,” he fumed.
The power expert said that the Supreme Court by its pronouncement would no doubt bring relief to millions of Nigerians who had been subjected to untold hardship.
“The real winners in the whole imbroglio are those purported to have stashed monies, the politicians, who are bent on buying votes.”(NAN)