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EXCLUSIVE: Supreme Court dabbling into monetary policy space dangerous –Expert

Nigeria’s first Professor of the Capital Markets and former Imo State Finance Commissioner, Prof Uche Uwaleke, has advised the Supreme Court to tread cautiously while adjudicating matters concerning monetary policies as they remain the exclusive preserve of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by law

In a chat with Daily Sun, Uwaleke, who is also a renowned Professor of Capital Market at the Nasarawa State University, noted that if the highest court in the land dabbles into terrains constitutionally and solely designed for the apex bank, the latter could lose its independence in the process, with consequences capable of hurting the economy and upsetting the monetary policy ecosystem.

Uwaleke’s advice follows the Supreme Court’s weekend ruling that not only resurrected the hitherto junked N200, N500 and N1,000 notes, but went ahead to give a December 31, 2023 deadline without recourse to the CBN or empirically arriving at the said deadline.

He said: “The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and it has given its ruling on the old naira notes and we expect the CBN to comply. But the apex court should not just dabble into the monetary policy space, especially in this ruling where it went as far giving a December 31 deadline.

“It should have allowed the CBN to decide on that based on information available and monetary policy calculations. I didn’t expect the Supreme Court to do that. It’ll weaken the implementation of monetary policies because when the CBN brings up a policy based on the MPC decisions, some people can just go to court and cite this case. So, a precedent has been set so to speak. It is a wrong precedent but it has happened.

“The CBN is not under obligation to consult every stakeholder before coming up with policies because it has the MPC already that takes decisions.

“Granted, the withdrawal of legal tender is not a daily activity of the CBN, the apex bank is to obtain permission from the President which it did here.

“The Supreme Court is not really blaming the CBN but the President which he didn’t run it through the NEC and FEC. So, anytime a major monetary policy decision is to be taken, the President should consult NEC and FEC”, Uwaleke explained.

Uwaleke also said that the cashless policy programme should not be derailed as it has loaded benefits for the country and the citizens, while making monetary policy administration easier and more fruitful.

According to economic experts, the benefits of a cashless economy includes; reduced crime rates without tangible money to steal, digital paper trail, and less money laundering, less time and cost associated with handling, storing, and depositing paper money and easier currency exchange while traveling internationally.

As a country battling terrorism, banditry and other crimes, it is very important to run on modern banking templates that dwarfs cash usage because illicit financial inflows, terror financing and tracking spending would be easier.

The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has encouraged the use of digital platforms for transactions.

These are; internet banking, mobile banking, domestic card (AFRIGO), USSD, PSBS, POS, eNaira app and 1.4 million mobile banking agents spread across the country to attend to the informal sector and those in far-flung settlements.