THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said all Nigeria’s banknotes remained legal tender as the Supreme Court’s December deadline for the bank to phase out the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes from circulation draws near.
CBN said this in a statement issued by its Director of Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin, on Wednesday, November 8, to allay fears over the legality of the old notes and reiterate the availability of sufficient banknotes nationwide.
“We wish to state unambiguously that every banknote issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) remains legal tender and should not be rejected by anyone, as stipulated in Section 20(5) of the CBN Act, 2007.
“There have also been reports of anxiety among some members of the public over the legality or otherwise of old naira banknotes,” it stated.
The apex bank had in October 2022 announced to phase out designs of the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, introduced new designs into circulation, and later gave a February 10 deadline to end the use of the old notes.
However, on Wednesday, February 8 this year, the Supreme Court suspended the deadline after the bank’s handling of the new naira notes policy had thrown the nation into crisis.
In a seven-man panel of justices led by John Okoro on March 3, the apex court ruled for an extension of the validity of the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes till December 31.
Sixteen states of the Federation had instituted the suit against the Federal Government and CBN to challenge the legality of introducing the naira redesign policy.
The apex court held that it was unlawful for former President Muhammadu Buhari to use executive powers to inflict unprecedented economic hardship on the citizens.
It also held that Buhari breached the nation’s Constitution in the manner he issued directives for redesigning the naira notes by the CBN.
In the statement on Wednesday, the apex bank advised members of the public to accept all CBN-issued banknotes currently in circulation and guard against panic withdrawals.
CBN had, in a circular on November 2, denied reports of alleged scarcity of cash at the banks.
“Our attention has again been drawn to reports of a scarcity of cash across some major cities in the country despite assurances of sufficient cash stocks in all locations across the country.
“Accordingly, branches of the CBN across the country have been directed to continue to issue different denominations of old and redesigned banknotes in adequate quantities to deposit money banks (DMBs) for onward circulation to bank customers,” it added.
While the apex bank has yet to start canvassing for the gradual return of the old notes to the banks, with barely 51 days left, the official statement suggests that it might not go ahead with phasing out the old naira notes by the December 31 deadline.
A recent report by BusinessDay unanimously quoted a CBN’s senior official that there is no need to worry about the December deadline.
According to the official, Nigerians should continue to accept and spend the old and new notes as phasing the former out would be gradual to avoid causing additional hardships for the masses.