Why Arabic inscription on naira notes would remain  – CBN

As controversy persists over the Arabic inscription (Ajami) printed on Naira notes, this medium recalls the defence of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the matter.

Nigeria’s apex bank last week announced its plan to redesign the N200, N500 and N1000 bank notes to curb money supply and soaring inflation.

TheCornet recalls that the CBN had defended the Ajami in a suit challenging its propriety, given Nigeria’s secularity status.

Malcolm Omirhobo, a lawyer, sought that the Ajami should be removed, in the suit he filed before the Federal High Court in November 2020. Omirhobo equally wanted the same inscription to be removed from the Nigerian Army logo.

But, in its counter-affidavit, the CBN, through its lawyer Abiola Lawal, said that the “Ajami inscriptions on some of the country’s currencies do not connote any religious statements or Arabian alignment.

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.

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

“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.

“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 Bank , at the time, said that removing Arabic inscriptions from naira notes “would cost the tax-paying Nigerians and federal government colossal sum of money to discard the existing naira notes and print new ones in satisfaction of the plaintiff”.

Amid the fresh controversy over the Ajami, one-time governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and former emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, Tuesday, said that the bank assured him it would retain the inscription on fresh notes. He said this in reaction to protest from Muslim clerics opposed to its removal.

“Since the issue came up, we have spoken to some people in the Central Bank, and they confirmed to me that such a plan is non-existent.

“When the misconception became widespread, I spoke to the CBN governor himself, and he also confirmed to me that there is no plan whatsoever to remove the Ajami,” Sanusi said.


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