CBN moves new, old notes to commercial banks to avert NLC invasion

THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has moved more banknotes to commercial banks to ease the pain of the cash crunch across the country.

Acting Director of the Corporate Communications Department of the CBN, Isa AbdulMumin, disclosed this in Abuja on Friday, March 24, in a statement.

The bank did not disclose how much it took to the commercial banks.

The ICIR reports that the CBN’s decision is an apparent move to avert planned invasion by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), which directed its members on Wednesday to picket the apex bank’s offices nationwide, from Monday, March 27, over the currency crunch.

In its Friday statement, the CBN said banks must operate on Saturdays and Sundays to attend to their customers.

The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, will visit banks with his team to ensure compliance, the statement said.

He directed all commercial banks to load their automated teller machines (ATMs) with cash and conduct physical operations in the banking halls.

He also urged Nigerians to be patient and pledged that the challenges caused by the naira redesign would soon ease.

The ICIR reported how the Supreme Court nullified the currency redesign on March 3, after governors elected on the ruling party – the All Progressives Congress (APC), approached the court to declare the policy nullity.

President Muhammadu Buhari authorised the policy, which made the old N200, N500 and N1,000 cease to be legal tender.

The policy has brought multi-dimensional suffering to Nigerians since it took effect on February 10, as the new notes which replaced the old ones have been very scarce.

In one of its many reports on the hardship the policy brought to people in the country, The ICIR reported how Nigerians went nude, fought in banks and engaged in other habits that counted as offences when things were normal. 

Though Buhari directed that the old N200 notes be returned into circulation in a nationwide broadcast on March 8, the Supreme Court’s judgment of March 3 nullified the policy. The court ordered that new and old notes should remain legal tender until December 31, 2023.

Despite the ruling, nothing changed in virtually all banks across the country as the banks waited for Buhari or the CBN to react to the Supreme Court judgment before issuing the notes.

    Most citizens also refused to accept the old N500 and N1,000 notes because of the President’s and CBN’s silence on the court judgment.

    Buhari eventually spoke on the judgment on March 11, saying the CBN and the country’s Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, had no reason to disobey the court.

    Despite the President’s reaction, cash has not been available across Nigeria.

    The ICIR reporters monitored banks in Abuja, Lagos and Enugu while filing this report on Friday and observed long queues at several banks, with some people arriving the banks as early as 5:00 am without getting either cash or having other problems resolved.

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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