Why we opposed bid to remove Arabic from Naira notes – CBN

November 10, 2020
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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says it opposed a suit seeking to remove the Ajami (Arabic) inscriptions on naira notes because of the financial implication on Nigeria.

Recall that a Lagos-based lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, had instituted a suit demanding for the removal of the Arabic inscriptions on Naira notes, saying it portrays Nigeria as an Islamic state, contrary to the country’s constitutional status of a secular state.

He contended this violates sections 10 and 55 of the Nigerian Constitution, which make the country a secular state.

He prayed the court to restrain the CBN from “further approving, printing and issuing naira notes with Arabic inscriptions, bearing in mind that Nigeria is a secular state.”

He further prayed the court to order the CBN to replace the Arabic inscriptions with either English language, which is the country’s official language, or any of Nigeria’s three main indigenous languagesHausa, Yoruba or Igbo.

But in its counter-affidavit deposed to by Abiola Lawal, the CBN argued that “the Ajami inscriptions on some of the country’s currencies do not connote any religious statements or Arabian alignment.”

The apex bank maintained that contrary to Omirhobo’s claim, the Arabic inscriptions were not a threat to Nigeria’s secular status.

It said: “The inscriptions on the country’s currencies do not and at no time have they threatened the secular statehood of the nation or have they violated the Constitution of Nigeria, as every design and inscription was finalised with the approval of the relevant government bodies.”

It explained “Ajami inscriptions” on the naira notes dates back to the colonial era “and they do not imply that Arabic is an official language in Nigeria.”

“The Ajami was inscribed on the country’s currency by the colonialists to aid those without Western education in certain parts of the country, who, back then, constituted a larger part of the populace.

It reasoned further that removing the Arabic inscriptions from the naira notes “would cost the tax-paying Nigerians and the Federal Government colossal sum of money to discard the existing naira notes and print new ones in satisfaction of the plaintiff.”

Hearing in the suit comes up on Tuesday before Justice Mohammed Liman.

The judge will also be hearing a similar suit filed by Omirhobo against the Nigerian Army, seeking the removal of Arabic inscriptions from the logo of the Nigerian Army.

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