CBN’s silence on Naira redesign; keeps banks and business owners in confusion
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has remained silent after days of the Supreme Court nullifying the Naira redesign policy.
Newsflash Nigeria understands that some commercial banks are not commencing re-issuance of the old Naira notes until directed to do so by the Central Banks of Nigeria, CBN.
Recall that a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court had last Friday held that the old N200, N500, and N1000 notes remain legal tender until December 31.
The apex in its ruling also nullified the Federal Government’s naira redesign policy, declaring it as an affront to the 1999 Constitution.
The stakeholders including bank customers, financial analysts, and business owners, have called for immediate re-issuance of the old Naira notes in compliance with the Supreme Court.
Some bank officials told Newsflash Nigeria that the banks would comply once they get a directive from CBN.
Though, checks by Newsflash Nigeria showed that some commercial banks in the City of Kano and Abuja have commenced paying out the old N500 and N1000 notes.
While some branches of Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) issued old notes, some others like Polaris bank in Abuja had not commenced as of the time this report was filed.
When our correspondent visited one of the GTB branches along Ahmadu Bello Way Area 11, Area 3, all in Garki Abuja, a customer returning from the bank, said he was paid 10,000 in the denomination of old N500 notes.
“As you can see, I am just stepping out from my bank; they paid me old N500 notes, 10,000 to be precise. The same thing has been done to other customers. I do not know if traders or business owners will collect the money themselves but collecting this is better than nothing.
“The old and new notes are not available. In fact, for weeks, I have been buying Naira at the rate of 20 percent for each N1000. The situation is terrible. The CBN should order all banks to do the same so that the currency would be readily available for Nigerians. We are tired of the mess called the cashless policy”, he stated.
But other banks said they only collect the old Naira notes from customers who have filled out the CBN’s cash swap form.
One of the officials working with Access Bank, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the banks would obey what CBN says, not the Supreme Court.
“Banks in Nigeria are heavily regulated and we only listen to what the CBN says. Despite the (Supreme ruling, we still need to hear from our regulator,” he said.
On whether the apex bank will obey, he said the CBN reports to the President and that the President has decided on the issue.
“We all know what the President has said on the matter. The CBN takes its orders from the Presidency. I am sure any action by CBN would be a directive from the President.”
Another bank official, who works at Keystone Bank said: “We can’t do anything contrary to CBN.
“They will direct what next and probably from Monday we shall get more updates from our management when they meet on Monday.”
‘We don’t have old notes’
A top-tier commercial bank regional manager said the CBN has yet to give a directive on the Supreme Court’s verdict validating the old naira notes.
He revealed that the apex bank would be having a meeting with banks regarding the matter on March 20, 2023.
“Our branches are collecting the old notes from customers with CBN’s cash swap forms, but we are not paying customers with old N500 and N1000 notes, to my knowledge. From the information reaching me, CBN plans to meet with us by March 20”, he stated.
Meanwhile, there is palpable confusion as traders, business owners, and motorists in the nation’s capital have refused to collect the old naira notes.
According to Daily Post, checks showed that one of the business owners at Wuse Market, Mr. Idris Adamu, said the old N500 and N1000 notes are not accepted.
“Nobody is accepting the old naira notes here. I can tell you this authoritatively. Do you expect us to collect it when banks are not accepting it?” he said.
Also, a taxi driver, Nasir Mohammed, who plies between Kubwa and Wuse Market axis, said drivers are not accepting the old notes.
The situation is the same nationwide, where customers spend the whole day in their banks without getting cash.
Also, Nigerians lamented that the poor performance of alternative banking platforms has made the matter worse.
Commercial banks, traders, and the business community await a directive from the Central Bank and President Buhari Muhammadu on the next line of action, on whether to accept the old notes.
Speaking on the situation, Mr. Patrick Oluefemi, a resident of Abuja said the Supreme Court verdict had not changed anything; he lamented that both the new and old currencies are not available.
He added that USSD and Internet banking are not helping the situation; several unsuccessful transactions and failed connections have been the order of the day.
“I have been at the bank since 5:00 am to withdraw cash, but nothing has changed. The bank told us to wait, and I have been unable to get cash.
“On Internet banking channels, it is not working at all. It is terrible. I have been trying to transfer N5000 through my bank’s App since Friday. Others have complained about failed transactions without refund”, he said.