10 Nov CBN opposes bid to remove Arabic from Naira note
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has opposed a suit seeking to remove the Ajami (Arabic) inscriptions on naira notes because, among other reasons, it would cost a ‘colossal sum of money’ to discard the existing notes and print new ones without Ajami.
The CBN told the Federal High Court Ajami is not a symbol or mark of Islam but an inscription to aid non-English speakers who are literate in and use Ajami for trade.
It made the submission in a counter-affidavit to a suit filed by a Lagos-based lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, before Justice Mohammed Liman.
Malcolm argued the Arabic inscriptions on the naira notes portray 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 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.
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.
Hearing in the suit comes up on 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.