The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday said it has not issued a fresh directive to commercial banks on last Friday’s judgments of the Supreme Court ordering the circulation of the old naira notes alongside the new ones until December 31, 2023. A seven-member panel of justices presided over by Justice Inyang Okoro had described as unconstitutional, President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the CBN for the redesigning and withdrawal of old notes of N200, N500 and N1,000, without consultation with the States Governor, Federal Executive Council, the National Council of States, and other stakeholders.
We earlier reports that there was confusion among commercial banks and business operators following the non-issuance of a directive by the CBN on receiving the old N500 and N1000 notes. The CBN spokesman, Isa Abdulmumin, who spoke to our reporter, said the CBN has not issued an official statement. However, a senior management source who spoke to Daily Trust said: “Both the old and new notes are legal tender, and banks are currently issuing them to customers. Nigerians should not reject any note, whether old or new.”
More commercial banks across the country have commenced dispensing the old N500 and N1000 notes to their customers. This is coming 24 hours after we got report that Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) began dispensing the old notes across its branches nationwide on Monday. Checks by our reporter in Lagos indicated that banks have started issuing the old naira notes to customers at their various Automated Teller Machine (ATM) terminals and over the counter.
Zenith Bank branch in Festac Town paid the old notes to customers over the counter. The ATMs at the branches of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) close to Agege-Pen Cinema Bridge, and GTB in the Ikeja area of Lagos, were also dispensing the old notes.
Findings also revealed that WEMA Bank has instructed its branches to start dispensing the old N500 and N1000 notes nationwide.
Also, an official of Zenith Bank who preferred anonymity said the branch had “received orders to begin dispensing old notes to our customers.” A Zenith Bank customer, Barrister Dike Amadi said, “I was paid the old N500 notes this afternoon at a Zenith Bank branch in Port Harcourt.” Another customer, Aina Dipo, said, “Old naira notes of N500 and N1000 are now being dispensed in Osogbo, Osun State.”
A check at First Bank, Polaris and Unity bank branches, showed that they were only dispensing the old N200 as directed by the CBN. A First Bank branch manager in Kano said; “We have not received any circular from the CBN to accept the old notes, and that we are not dispensing the old N500 and N1000 notes,” he stated.
However, there has been a new twist to the crisis as supermarkets, fuel stations and commercial bus drivers in some parts of Lagos are rejecting the old notes. When we contacted a resident Lagos, he said, “What is this confusion. Supreme Court says old naira remains valid till December 31, 2023, banks start dispensing old notes but buses, supermarkets, fuel stations, and market people are not collecting the old notes. It’s like this country is on autopilot.”
Similarly, Kate Hensley Haziel who also resides in Lagos said; “I think after the Supreme Court judgment that the old N500 and N1000 naira will remain legal tender until December 31, 2023. The CBN at least still needs to address Nigerians. Many people are still confused about whether or not to accept the old notes.”
A financial expert, Gbolade Idakolo, said President Muhammadu Buhari should immediately direct the CBN governor to revert to the status quo ante. “The naira redesign policy has shrunk the economy by over a trillion in business losses. Many SMEs have closed shops due to their direct dealings with cash. “The policy increased hardship for the already stressed population, and the Supreme Court judgments is a great relief,” he said.
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