Elder statesman Robert Clark, SAN, responded to the Supreme Court’s decision to rule against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regarding the use of Old Naira Notes.
The CBN deadline of February 10 as the final day that old notes would be accepted was invalidated by the Supreme Court’s ruling.
In a unanimous decision on Wednesday, a seven-member panel chaired by Justice John Okoro halted the federal government in response to an exparte application filed by the three northern states of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara, ordering that the notes continue to be in use after Friday.
Prior to the outcome of the substantive matter, the petitioners had asked for an order halting the withdrawal of the notes.
The case was postponed until February 15 so that the court’s seven-member panel could hear the motion on notice. The court had granted the order as prayed.
After the hearing on February 15, Clark responded to the situation by predicting that the Supreme Court will provide a ruling that would satisfy all parties and the law.
The senior statesman answered questions from reporters while being interviewed on Friday’s morning episode of Arise TV.
He said, “Interim injunctions, whether from the Supreme Court or from the Court of Appeal and from the Federal High Court or State High Court, are limited in the number of days they can stand as a law.
“One thing you have to admit is that interim that is giving ex-parte is one of the illegal actions been taken by the court because they are not hearing the other side. The democracy of Nigeria doesn’t permit it; it says in a democracy when there is a matter, both sides must be listened to.
“But, however, interim orders even by nature in, quote, is illegal. The law says, OK we will cure this illegality by keeping it for only fifteen days or ten days. Therefore when the court says I will listen to the merit of the matter, that period legalizes the illegality of the order, and on the day it is being heard, the interim order ceases to exist because the matter now is being heard on merit by the court.
“Therefore, if the court starts listening to it on the 15 [of February] as the Supreme Court has said, there is no illegality continue from that date because, after the hearing, the Supreme Court will make another order which will satisfy the constitution and satisfy all litigants.”