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CBN opposes bid to remove Arabic from naira note ON NOVEMBER 10, 2020 12:30 PM IN NEWS

CBN opposes bid to remove Arabic from naira
ON NOVEMBER 10, 2020 12:00 PM IN NEWS
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has opposed a suit seeking to
remove the Ajami (Arabic) inscriptions on naira notes.
It told the Federal High Court that it would cost the country a “colossal
sum of money” to discard the existing notes and print new ones without
The CBN said 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.
The apex bank made the submission in a counter-affidavit to a suit filed
by a Lagos-based lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, before Justice
Mohammed Liman.
Omirhobo argued that the Arabic inscriptions on the naira notes portray
Nigeria as an Islamic state, contrary to the country’s constitutional
status of a multi-religious state.
READ ALSO: Nigerian lawyer wants Arabic words removed
from currency
He contended that this violates sections 10 and 55 of the Constitution,
which makes the country a multi-religious state.
Section 10 reads: “The government of the Federation or of a state shall
not adopt any religion as the state religion.”
Omirhobo 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 also 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 multi-religious 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, 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 explained that the “Ajami inscriptions” on the naira notes
date back to the colonial era “and they do not imply that Arabic is an
official language in Nigeria”.
It added: “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.”