The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has set records straight on the Arabic inscription on naira notes, saying Ajami is not a symbol or mark of Islam.
The clarification by CBN became necessary having been dragged to the court by a Lagos-based lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo who contended that having Arabic inscriptions on the naira notes portrays Nigeria as an Islamic state, contrary to the country’s constitutional status of a secular state.
In a suit filed before Justice Mohammed Liman, Omirhobo 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.
He argued that with the Arabic inscriptions on the naira note, the CBN has been violating sections 10 and 55 of the Nigerian Constitution, which make the country a secular state.
In the counter-affidavit filed by the counsel to the CBN, Abiola Lawal, the CBN maintained that contrary to Omirhobo’s claim, “the Ajami inscriptions on some of the country’s currencies do not connote any religious statements or Arabian alignment.”
“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 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 said.
The CBN pleaded that removing the Arabic inscriptions from the naira notes “would cost the tax-paying Nigerians and the Federal Government colossal sum of money to discard the existing naira notes and print new ones in satisfaction of the plaintiff.”
Hearing on the suit comes up today, Tuesday, November 10, 2020, before Justice Liman.