FG, CBN’s Silence Create Confusion as Traders, Supermarkets, Others Reject Old Naira Notes

February 11, 2023
reject old Naira notes

By Dipo Olowookere

The inability of the federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to give a direction on the old Naira notes, which the apex bank earlier said would cease to be legal tender in the country from February 10, 2023, is creating confusion.

Business Post gathered that in Lagos, some traders, supermarkets, eateries and others now reject old Naira notes; N200, N500, and N1,000. They insist on collecting the redesigned currencies or being paid through the Point of Sale (POS) machine.

At one of the prominent eateries on the Egbeda-Idimu Road in the Egbeda area of Lagos, customers expressed bitterness over the refusal of the management of the facility to accept payment with the old notes on Friday night.

“I wanted to pay for the food I bought, but I was told they would not accept the old currency notes except the new ones. I had to use my debit card to pay through their POS machine,” one of the customers, Mr Aigbe James, told this reporter.

Recall that on Wednesday, the Supreme Court granted an interim injunction sought by the Governors of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara States, to stop the implementation of the deadline of the currency swap policy of the central bank.

The Governors claimed that the policy was making residents of their states go through untold hardship as it was already causing protests in some parts of the country.

The apex court ruled that the status quo should be maintained until the matter is heard next Wednesday. This meant that the old and new notes should be allowed to co-exist until a final judgement is given.

On Friday, an emergency Council of State meeting was conveyed by President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss the policy and others, including the general elections starting in two weeks’ time.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, said the council threw its weight behind the policy but advised the CBN to print more banknotes or recirculate the old Naira notes to ease the cash crunch in the country. He also said the government was advised to obey the Supreme Court order, meaning the deadline will no longer be applicable.

But some banks sent messages to their customers yesterday, informing them that the deadline remained February 10.

“The old designs of N200, N500 and N1000 will no longer be accepted as legal tender after today, February 10, 2023. Deposit your old notes now at any of our branches,” one of the banks stated.

At the Ikeja area of Lagos State on Saturday, some traders at the popular Computer Village refused to accept the old notes.

It was a similar story in Maryland as a few supermarkets visited by this reporter rejected the old Naira notes, insisting on the new currency notes or card payments.

Those who spoke with this newspaper stressed that their refusal was because the government was yet to speak on the deadline and do not want to lose their money.

When reminded that the CBN had earlier said after the deadline, Nigerians could still deposit their old notes till February 17, the respondents said they just want to be on the safer side.

Meanwhile, some POS operators still accept the old banknotes, especially as they battle with getting the new notes.

“I still accept the old notes because I can still take them to the bank before February 17.

“Getting the new notes is very difficult, and we purchase the old notes at an exorbitant price. I pay between 10,000 and N17,000 to get N100,000 in old notes in this area; that is why we charge our customers almost N2,000 for N10,000.

“Some people think we are taking advantage of the situation to hike our charges, but it is not our fault. I am only buying [the old notes] because I don’t want to go out of business,” one of the operators in the Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos State, Ms Toyin Sokoya, informed Business Post.

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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