Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) says the Federal Government must comply with the Supreme Court order in respect of the currency swap crisis to avoid being contemptuous of the rule of law.
Falana, who is also the interim Chairman of the Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) said his speaking up became imperative because there are reports suggesting that the CBN has decided that it will not follow the injunctions of the apex court.
According to him, such a move by the CBN will amount to a contemptuous disregard for the rule of law.
Falana took a look at the technicalities of the case establishing the reason why the Management of the Central Bank might be looking to ignore the court order and gave reasons why the CBN cannot disregard the Supreme Court, citing cases that give greater context to the matter on ground.
He said:”We have just read a report that the Authorities of the Central Bank of Nigeria have decided not to comply with the ex parte order issued by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in respect of the avoidable currency swap crisis.
“The reason adduced for the contemptuous disregard for the rule of law is that the Central Bank of Nigeria is not a party to the case of Attorney-General of Kaduna State & 2 Ors. v. Attorney-General of the Federation (Suit No: SC/CV/162/2023) pending at the Supreme Court.
“It is pertinent to remind the Management of the Central Bank of the case of Nkwo Augustine Eddiego v. Board of Central Bank of Nigeria (Suit No: HCIK/38/2022), where the Delta State High Court granted an ex parte order which restrained the Defendants from preventing the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from seeking political offices pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice in the case.
“Even though Mr. Emefiele was not a party to the suit, he took advantage of the ex parte order to join the APC to contest the presidential primary of the APC before he was stopped by President Buhari.
“Similarly, in the case of Incorporated Trustees of the Forum for Accountability and Good Leadership v. Attorney-General of the Federation & Ors. (Suit No: FCT/HC/GAR/CV/41/2022) the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory granted an injunction restraining the State Security Services from arresting, investigating and prosecuting Mr. Emefiele for terrorism financing.
“Although he was not a party to the suit Mr. Emefiele has not been arrested by the State Security Services on the basis of the court order.
“Therefore, it is height of arrogance of power for Mr. Emefiele to treat the ex parte of the Supreme Court with provocative contempt. We are compelled to draw the attention of the Central Bank Management of the rule of law to the case of Attorney-General of Lagos State v. Attorney-General of the Federation (2005) 2 WRN 1 at 109 where Tobi JSC of blessed memory cautioned all authorities and persons in Nigeria thus:
“In a society where the rule of law prevails, self-help is not available to the executive or any arm of government. In view of the fact that such a conduct could breed anarchy and totalitarianism, and since anarchy and totalitarianism are antitheses to democracy, courts operating the rule of law, the life-blood of democracy, are under a constitutional duty to stand against such action.
“The courts are available to accommodate all sorts of grievances that are justiciable in law and section 6 of the Constitution gives the courts power to adjudicate on matters between two or more competing parties.
“ In our democracy all the governments of this country, as well as organisations and individuals, must kowtow to the due process of the law and this they can vindicate by resorting to the courts for redress in the event of any grievance.”
He added,”It is public knowledge that the Federal Government has filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to hear and determine the case of the Attorney-General of Kaduna State & 2 Ors v Attorney-General of the Federation (supra).
“In the interim, the Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies including the Central Bank of Nigeria are bound by the valid and subsisting ex parte order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria until it is set aside by the same court.”