The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is yet to release the old N1000 and N500 notes it mopped out of circulation despite asking commercial banks to commence their recirculation, findings by Daily Trust have revealed.
This is amid the struggle by commercial banks to meet the increasing demands of customers who besiege their branches across the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Traders, artisans, PoS operators, and students, among others, who visited bank branches, said they were disappointed as they could not withdraw the amounts they wanted.
Those who spoke to our correspondents said they were only given between N5,000 and N10,000 while a few others managed to get N20,000.
The CBN said Monday in a statement by its spokesman, Isa AbdulMumin, that deposit money banks operating in the country have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3 which said the old N1,000, N500 and N200 remain legal tender until December 31.
The CBN’s statement came a few hours after a statement from Aso Villa quoting President Muhammadu Buhari as saying he did not direct the CBN and the Attorney-General of the Federation not to comply with the Supreme Court judgement.
Same old problem
Checks by our reporters yesterday indicated that the CBN was not releasing the old notes it has already mopped out of circulation.
A senior management staff of Guarantee Trust Bank said: “We are not receiving any old cash from the CBN. I have a substantial stock of the old notes and that is what we are recirculating as of today.”
The source explained that most commercial banks had retained the old notes in the days leading up to the February 10 deadline, before the Supreme Court order truncated the initial timeline by the CBN.
“We had that cash with us, and when the CBN became overwhelmed with those rushing to beat the deadline, they also directed them to the commercial banks, so we have that stock too. That is the reserve that we have built up.”
Also, a management staff of Polaris Bank who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity said, “We have not received the old notes largely because we have not finished dispensing our old naira stock.
“The instruction we have is to dispense every note at our disposal. We will get a clear understanding of things when we exhaust what we have.”
Banks comply with directive to disburse old N1000, N500
In Kaduna, Abuja, and Kano, our correspondents report that some banks, including Sterling, GTB, First Bank, United Bank of Africa (UBA) and Access Bank were yesterday dispensing the old N500 notes to their customers following the directive by the CBN.
A customer at Sterling Bank who simply identified herself as Mrs Gabriel, said, “I collected N20,000 old N500 notes from my bank today. I am so happy because I have not seen this kind of money for weeks.”
The automated teller machines of most banks in Lagos were seen dispensing cash.
Although most of the banks were still rationing the available cash in order to meet the needs of their customers, there was a clear improvement from the chaos of previous weeks.
At Polaris Bank, Iju, customers were given N10, 000 each instead of the stipulated N20,000.
Our correspondents, who visited two branches of Unity Bank in Bwari and the Central Business District in Abuja, confirmed that they withdrew N5,000 and N10,000, respectively.
The Head of Corporate Communication at Unity Bank, Matthew Obiazikwor, confirmed that the bank had fully complied with the directive of the CBN.
“We are giving out cash to our customers. We have fully complied with the directive. Our ATMs are also loaded. However, there is still the limitation of daily withdrawal,” he said.
Nigerians decry rejection of old notes by traders, transporters
Some transporters and traders yesterday rejected the old N500 and N1,000 bank notes despite the directive from the CBN that the old notes remain legal tender till December 31 in accordance with the judgment of the Supreme Court.
In Kaduna, many traders were still sceptical of collecting the old notes. Most of them said they were studying the situation to see if the policy will be reversed.
“I cannot collect it until Buhari (President) tells us to start collecting it,” a yam seller, Muhammad Isah, said.
However, Daily Trust learned that market leaders in Lagos have started sensitizing their members to collect the old notes in line with the directives of the CBN. Leaders from major markets were at Alausa yesterday.
“I have informed my people, and I will repeat the same tomorrow. We have told them to accept the old notes from customers,” the Iyaloja of Asejere Market, Makoko, Alhaja Kasarat Adebayo, said.
State gov’t urges residents to accept old notes
The Delta State government yesterday called on residents of the state to comply with the CBN’s directive that the old N1,000, N500, and N200 notes remain legal tender until December 31.
The Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, made the call in a statement in Asaba, urging people in the state to accept the notes as legal tender in view of the Supreme Court ruling of March 3 and the central bank’s direction to continue recognition of the old bills as legal tender.
Similar calls have been made by Ogun, Kogi, Lagos, Kano and Jigawa, among others.
Inject old notes to ease cash scarcity, Experts tell CBN
Experts have urged the CBN to make available the old notes, particularly the N500 and N1000, to ease the current cash crunch.
Daily Trust reports that before the enforcement of the cashless policy, the CBN said N3.2 trillion was in circulation, but during the last briefing by Emefiele, he said N2.3 trillion had been mopped up.
Speaking to Daily Trust, a financial analyst, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, said the directive by the Supreme Court will be futile if the old notes are not injected into the system.
“My concern is that except a substantial quantity of already withdrawn notes is re-injected and the cash withdrawal limit eased, the cash scarcity is most likely to persist,” he said.
He added that, “It is one thing for the CBN to obey the Supreme Court order by recognizing the old notes as legal order and another for it to make the cash available for transactions.”
Also speaking, a development expert, Joseph Momoh, said: “Although some banks have complied with the directive by the CBN following the Supreme Court judgment, the amount they are dispensing is quite small.
“The CBN should make available the old notes that it earlier mopped up so that the hardship that micro, small and medium enterprises are currently undergoing can gradually ease off.”
On his part, a chartered accountant, Umar Mohammed, who consults for some banks said it will require political will to solve the problem of the cash crunch.
“Nobody is saying the whole N2.3 trillion mopped up must be brought back. What is clear is that Nigeria is not fully ready for the cashless policy.
“We have learnt many lessons that the banks do not have the requisite infrastructure. There are millions of Nigerians that are unbanked. And the citizens also need more sensitization.
“Therefore, I want to appeal that the president and the CBN swallow their pride and appreciate these facts. Of course, some people have already keyed into the cashless policy which is to their credit.
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