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Arabic inscriptions on naira notes do not threaten the secular status of Nigeria – CBN tells court

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has clarified that the Arabic inscriptions on some Naira notes do not threaten the country’s secular status in any way.

In a countersuit brought before the Federal High Court in Lagos, the apex court said this.

Malcolm Omirhobo, a Nigerian lawyer, had asked the court for an order to direct the apex bank to delete the Arabic inscriptions on the naira notes.

Omirhobo claimed in his lawsuit brought before Justice Mohammed Liman that having Arabic inscriptions on the naira notes depicts Nigeria as an Islamic state that is contradictory to the constitutional status of a secular state in the world. According to him, he does not know what the Arabic inscriptions mean and wants either the English language, which is the official language of the country, or the three major indigenous languages of Nigeria, Hausa, Yoruba, or Igbo, to be replaced.

He wants the court to discourage the CBN from “further authorizing, printing and issuing Arabic inscription naira notes, taking into account that Nigeria is a secular state.”

The CBN, however, argued in a counter-suit brought before the court by its lawyer, Abiola Lawal, that the Ajami inscriptions on some of the currencies of the country do not connote any religious claims or alignment with Arabia.

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The CBN clarified that on the naira documents, the Ajami inscriptions date back to the colonial period and they do not indicate that Arabic in Nigeria is an official language.

“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 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.” the CBN’s court paper read

The bank argued that it would cost the tax-paying Nigerians and the Federal Government a colossal amount of money to discard the current naira notes and print new ones to the complainant’s satisfaction to strip the Arabic inscriptions from the naira notes.’

Omirhobo also brought a similar action before Justice Liman to demand the removal of Arabic inscriptions from the Nigerian Army emblem.

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The suit is set to be heard on Tuesday 10 November.

About Kirigaya Kazuto

Kazuto Kirigaya, born as Kazuto Narusaka, is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Sword Art Online series of light novels written by Reki Kawahara.

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