CBN Says No to Removal of Arabic Inscription on Naira Notes

Central Bank of Nigeria has said no to a lawsuit seeking the removal of Ajami (Arabic) inscriptions on Naira notes. The highest bank in Nigeria had said it would cost Nigeria a lot of money to trash the existing notes because of the Arabic inscriptions and print new naira notes without the Arabic inscriptions. The apex bank dialogue that the Ajami is not a mark of Islam or its symbol but an inscription to aid non-English speakers who are literate in and use Ajami for trade. A Lagos-based lawyer, Chief Malcom Omirhobo, who filed the suit against the central bank, had argued that having Arabic inscription on the nation’s currency portray Nigeria as an Islamic nation, which is different or opposite to the constitutional status of a secular state. Omirhobo stated that this violates sections 10 and 55 of the nation’s constitution that state a government of the federal or a state shall not adopt any religion. Section 10 reads: “The government of the Federation or of a state shall not adopt any religion as state religion.” He, therefore, prayed that the court stops the CBN from “further approving, printing and issuing naira notes with Arabic inscriptions, bearing in mind that Nigeria is a secular state.” He also prayed that the court mandates the apex bank to replace the inscriptions with either English language, the nation’s official language or any of Nigeria’s three main languages, Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo. In its counter-affidavit, Abiola Lawal, counsel to the central bank, argued that “the Ajami inscriptions on some of the country’s currencies do not connote any religious statements or Arabian alignment.” He maintained the Arabic inscriptions were not a threat to Nigeria’s secular status. He 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.” Further explained “Ajami inscriptions” on[…]

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