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Banks stick to naira deadline as CBN ignores Supreme Court order

Banks stick to naira deadline as CBN ignores Supreme Court order

Posted Feb 10, 2023 - 06:10PM by Gnax Oneboss 0

Nigerian banks are sticking to the February 10, 2023 deadline for the phasing out of high-value naira notes as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ignores a Supreme Court order restraining the federal government from banning the old notes.

That’s after lenders on Friday issued a notice to their customers regarding the expiration of the deadline.

“The old designs of N200, N500, and N1,000 will no longer be accepted as legal tender after today 10 February 2023. Deposit your old notes now at any of our branches,” tier-two lender, Stanbic IBTC, said in a note to its customers.

Lawyers who spoke to BusinessDay said the Supreme court’s ruling is not binding on the CBN and as such the apex bank could still enforce the initial deadline.

They said any judgment passed against the Federal Government is not enforceable on the CBN because the CBN Act gives the apex bank complete independence.
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By operation of the CBN Act, the apex bank cannot be subjected to the direction of any person or office in the land, Ike Akaraiwe SAN, said in a WhatsApp message seen by BusinessDay.

BusinessDay gathered that there was a circular from the CBN to banks, insisting on compliance with today (Friday)’s deadline. Consequently, the banks have stopped paying with old currency and have also issued notice to their customers on the expiration of the deadline.

A visit to some of the banks in Lagos showed that the banks that opened for business on Friday could only mop-up old cash and attend to customers who were in the banking hall for transfer transaction and any other transaction issue.

Customers who were in the bank to withdraw cash were disappointed as they could not access the new naira or the old currency.

“We do not have cash. We are only doing transfers and taking deposits,” a cashier in one of the branches of the country’s largest bank, Access, told customers who wanted to withdraw cash.

Nigerians, irrespective of their economic status, are bearing the brunt of the naira scarcity across the country.

The impact has been severe to the extent that some of Nigeria’s high net worth individuals who have never been in the banking hall since the advent of electronic banking, are flooding banking halls to collect N10,000.

Even in some Church services, some respected individuals who do not have cash were seen approaching those who dip their hands in their pockets to bring money for offering.

The Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN) has empathised with members of the public over discomfort and hardship associated with the current currency reform which has introduced the newly designed naira notes and reduction in withdrawal limit.

“We are in constant communication with all the Banks and are assured that they are all doing whatever is within their control to normalise this difficult situation. We enjoin the banking public to maintain peace, rest assured that BDAN is taking all reasonable steps to influence the structure and mechanisms that should free up bottlenecks and open channels that will speed up the resolution of the crisis,” said Mustafa Chike-Obi, chairman, board of directors, BDAN.

The CBN had clarified its position on the February 10, 2023, deadline for phasing out of Nigeria’s higher denomination of the banknotes, saying that the old notes would cease to be legal tender after the set date, and can no longer be used for any form of transaction afterwards.

Osita Nwanisobi, director, corporate communications department at the CBN, who made the clarification at the end of the earlier deadline of January 31, 2023, said in line with the provision of Section 20(3) of the CBN Act, Nigerians would have the opportunity to redeem the face value of the Naira only at the Central Bank, after the currency has lost its legal tender status, subject to meeting certain conditions.

Reiterating the pledge of the CBN governor Godwin Emefiele at the meeting with the House of Representatives Ad-hoc committee on Tuesday, January 31, 2023, Nwanisobi said Nigerians would not lose their money, even as he urged citizens to take advantage of the extended deadline of February 10, 2023 to deposit the old banknotes currently in their possession at their banks or through mobile money agents.

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