The Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER) has warned the Nigerian Civil Society against use of abusive against the justices of Supreme Courts, who delivered a judgement Wednesday, restricting the Central Bank of Nigeria from enforcing the February 10, 2023 deadline for phasing out of the old N1000, N500 and N200 notes.
The Supreme Court had yesterday in a suit brought against the CBN by three Northern governors, stopped the CBN from enforcing the policy until the 15th of this month when the substantive case will be determined.
Following the court ruling, many Civil Society Groups had called out the Supreme Court justices, alleging all manner of sharp practices and ulterior motives.
But the CASER on Wednesday through its Executive Director & Lead Advocate, Frank Tietie, said it is concerned with the use of abusive language to describe Supreme Court justices by a section of the Nigerian Civil society who are disgruntled by the recent pronouncement of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on the CBN policy on demonetization.
The group said such elements do not qualify to describe themselves as representatives of civil society of Nigeria and should not be so accorded by any media organization.
It said Nigerians must learn to respect constituted authority and realise that a legal order is put in place in every country to ensure peace and order in public and private affairs.
“Claiming to be members of Civil society does not give anyone the liberty to make disparaging statements against the Supreme Court of Nigeria in public, especially during a live telecast of a press briefing to the whole world on national and international television networks.
“By Nigeria’s Common law tradition, any disrespect for the court of law during its proceedings or in the general public is considered a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment.
“Therefore, the so-called civil society group, which decided to throw caution to the wind by picking on the Supreme Court Justices, to abuse them because they delivered a ruling on an interim application, must be prepared to face the consequences associated with such behaviour that is fueled by a mixture of dutch courage and crass ignorance.
“The leaders of the group, which addressed that live press briefing on the 8th of February, were presumably emboldened by too much resources, enabling them even to buy hours of airtime for a live broadcast on prime television stations.
“Consequent upon that, they lost every sense of decency in the manner they addressed the Supreme Court Justices.
“They were clearly on a mission to undermine the foundation of the Nigerian state under the pretext of allegiance to President Behari while pushing a jaundiced agenda on the CBN demonetization Policy of Cash withdrawal limit and Naira redesign,” the group noted.
Tietie said CASER, as a responsible non-governmental organization and, by extension, a civil society organisation which anchors all of its advocacy on law, will not accept or tolerate any form of denigration of Nigerian Courts and judges, irrespective of the decisions they make.
According to him, the stance is based on the principle it adopts that there are no alternatives to peace and legal order the courts provide except conflicts, confusion and war.
He said; “CASER will therefore oppose any attempt by any group, especially one falsely claiming to be acting on behalf of other civil society organisations, whereas it deliberately or inadvertently works to undermine the peace and legal cohesion of the Nigerian state.
“Such attempts by a group at inciting a rebellion to state authorities must be considered as a matter of grave national security concern that should be quickly investigated and checked by state agents.
“Whereas CASER is studying the present situation of hardship facing on account of and arising from the poor implementation of the CBN demonetization policy, it is yet to take a position to guide its advocacy.
“However, it calls on all authorities, institutions and persons to recognize, respect and comply with the decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on the matter. This should also apply to the decisions of any Nigeria court on any matter.
“It betrays a lot of ignorance for any group of persons to ever in a democracy as Nigeria’s to challenge the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in any matter that is before it.
“It is not only the highest court in the Federal Republic of Nigeria; its independence and impartiality are constitutionally presumed.”