CBN explains Arabic inscriptions on naira notes, says Nigeria not an Islamic state

By AdvocateNews on 09/11/2020

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The Central Bank of Nigeria on Monday dismissed insinuations in some quarters that the Arabic inscriptions on naira notes portrays Nigeria as an Islamic state, contrary to the country’s constitutional status of a secular state.

The clarification was contained in a counter-affidavit in opposition to a suit filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos in which the plaintiff, a Lagos-based lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo is seeking for the removal of the Arabic inscriptions.

Omirhobo, who filed the suit before Justice Mohammed Liman, contended that having Arabic inscriptions on the naira notes portrays Nigeria as an Islamic state, contrary to the country’s constitutional status of a secular state.

Omirhobo, who said he does not know what the Arabic inscriptions mean, is praying 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 languages – Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo.

The lawyer accused the CBN of violating sections 10 and 55 of the Nigerian Constitution, which make the country a secular state with the Arabic inscriptions on the naira note.

He wants 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.”

In the counter-affidavit deposed to by one Abiola Lawal, the apex bank maintained that contrary to Omirhobo’s claim “the Ajami inscriptions on some of the country’s currencies do not connote any religious statements or Arabian alignment.”

The CBN also tackled the lawyer on the claim that the Arabic inscriptions were a threat to Nigeria’s secular status.

“The inscriptions on the country’s currencies do not and at no time have they threatened the secular statehood of the nation nor have they violated the Constitution of Nigeria, as every design and inscription was finalised with the approval of the relevant government bodies,” the apex bank said.

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

The apex bank said, “The naira notes retained the inscriptions with Ajami since 1973 when the name of the Nigerian currency was changed to naira from pounds.

“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.

“The Ajami is not a symbol or mark of Islam but an inscription to aid the populace uneducated in Western education in ease of trade.”

While urging the court to reject Omirhobo’s suit, the CBN pleaded that removing the Arabi 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 (today) before Justice 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.

Like the CBN, the Army has also opposed Omirhobo’s suit and urged the court to throw it out.

Posted 09/11/2020 10:40:17 PM

 

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