THE Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) has finally bowed to pressure and has validated the use of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes till December 31, 2023, following the March 3, 2023 Supreme Court judgment on deadline for the notes as legal tender.
Confirming this development in an official statement issued today, the CBN’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin said the validity date was in compliance with the Supreme Court order.
“In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the rule of law principle that characterised the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operation of the Central Bank of Nigeria as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023.
“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Banker’s Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 13, 2023,” AbdulMumin stated.
Prior to this official announcement, the Anambra State governor, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, had stated in his official Facebook account that the incumbent CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, told him in a telephone chat that he had directed commercial banks to dispense the old currency notes and also receive same as deposits from customers following the outcome of a Bankers Committee meeting on March 12, 2023.
Apart from Soludo’s revelation, the Presidency had also told the CBN in an official statement issued earlier today and signed by Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media to President Buhari, to obey the Supreme Court judgment on extension of the validity of the old notes.
Notably, The ICIR had written several reports that revealed drag-down of businesses and economic activities, on the back of the currency redesign policy of the apex bank, while calling on the CBN to rescue the economy.
Last week, for instance, The ICIR reported how businesses had been hit by problems arising from weak banking applications, as online transactions suffered long delays and, in many cases, absolute failure.
The CBN had last October announced it would be redesigning the N200, N500 and N1,000 notes. The new notes were introduced into the system on December 15, 2022, with the CBN initially setting January 31, 2023 as the deadline, as legal tender, for the old notes being rested.
One of the reasons the CBN gave for its naira redesign decision was its resolve to strengthen Nigeria’s cashless economy.
But the policy has brought so much agony to individuals, families and businesses as the new notes have remained scarce. The CBN has not helped matters with its decision somersaults on the swap of the old with the new.
With the new directive, analysts say businesses would gradually have a breathe of fresh air.
“I will have to observe the market by tomorrow to see the market reactions and how businesses will adapt to the development,” a point-of-sale merchant, Ikenna Nosike, told The ICIR.
Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.