Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that he did not asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Attorney -General of the Federation to disobey the Supreme Court judgement, the apex bank last night said that the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes remain legal tender.
A statement by CBN’s spokesperson, Isa Abdulmumin, said the new directive was in line with the judgement of the Supreme Court.
Daily Trust reports that the CBN had for days refused to publicly accept the Supreme Court judgement on the old naira notes, a development that aggravated the hardship being faced by millions of Nigerians amid reluctance by traders and some banks to accept the old denominations.
Many lawyers and other pundits had condemned the disposition of the Buhari-led administration to the naira crisis and voiced out their anger over the affront on the highest court in the land.
End fuel, naira crises in 7 days, NLC tells FG
Proposal to increase corps members’ pay on Buhari’s table – Minister
But while responding to the public outrage last night, the CBN said, “In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the rule of law principle that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), 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 Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023.
“Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly,” the statement read.
You have no reason not to comply with S/Court order – Buhari
Earlier in the day, the Presidency broke its silence over penultimate Friday’s decision of the Supreme Court, which extended the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes to December 31, 2023.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said President Buhari never told Attorney General Abubakar Malami and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to defy the Supreme Court order.
The president also rejected the impression that he lacked compassion, saying that “no government in our recent history has introduced policies to help economically marginalised and vulnerable groups like the present administration.”
The Presidency added that President Buhari had not done anything “knowingly and deliberately to interfere with or obstruct the administration of justice.”
Shehu said: “The president is not a micromanager and will not, therefore, stop the attorney general and the CBN governor from performing the details of their duties in accordance with the law. In any case, it is debatable at this time if there is proof of wilful denial by the two of them on the orders of the apex court.
“The directive of the president, following the meeting of the Council of State is that the bank must make available for circulation all the money that is needed and nothing has happened to change the position.
“The negative campaign and personalised attacks against the president by the opposition and all manner of commentators is unfair and unjust, as no court order at any level has been issued or directed at him.
“As for the cashless system the CBN is determined to put in place, it is a known fact that many of the country’s citizens who bear the brunt of the sufferings, surprisingly support the policy as they believe that the action would cut corruption, fight terrorism, build an environment of honesty and reinforce the incorruptible leadership of the president.
“It is therefore wide off the mark to blame the president for the current controversy over the cash scarcity, despite the Supreme Court judgement. The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the president.”
It’s good news – Traders, PoS operators
Marketers in the popular Singer market in Kano last night expressed satisfaction with new directives by the CBN, saying it will go a long way in easing their businesses that were grounded as a result of the cash crunch.
According to Nuhu Danliti, the scarcity of cash and the difficulties experienced from e-banking had affected them seriously.
“But with this directive, things will become easier for us. Our market will improve and things will normalise. The informal sector will come to life.”
Alhaji Ahmad Tasiu Dandoro also expressed happiness with the new development, saying it will reduce the sufferings associated with the cash crunch.
He said if the old naira notes will continue to circulate, many businesses that went extinct will come back to life.
“We are happy if they will really release the money. The scarcity of cash has grounded our markets. Someone that had a capital of over N100 million is battling to get N5, 000 to take home. But with this, I believe things will normalize,” he said.
According to him, some marketers have the old naira cash with them “but they didn’t take it to the bank. They are expecting this to happen and they are lucky. Now they will bring it out and spend.”
“I am very happy to hear this news. I hope the banks will follow the directives and release money through various channels like ATM and so on,” Sani Abdullahi, a PoS operator in Kano, said.
“It means we would go back to business. We have suffered a lot in the last few months; most of us have run out of business, many are struggling to feed their families. The situation was so pathetic. We hope that they will bring back the old notes they have moped up because the new notes aren’t sufficient,” he said.
More banks issue old notes, struggle to meet customers’ needs
Checks by our reporters indicate that more banks have commenced compliance across Abuja, Lagos and Kano.
However, they are still unable to meet the cash needs of their customers, Daily Trust reports.
“I was lucky to get N3,000 from First Bank after queuing for almost three hours. They paid us with the old notes but they didn’t have enough cash to go round so it was rationed,” said a customer, who identified herself as Mrs Abimbola Jinadu.
At GTBank Plc branch along Phase IV road in Kubwa, Abuja, customers got the old notes only over the counter, while a few ATMs dispensed the new notes.
The story was similar at Access Bank, Zenith Bank, First Bank and Stanbic IBTC Bank, all located in close proximity along Phase IV road.
An official of one of the banks confided in one of our correspondents that they were waiting for more cash from the CBN.
“Hopefully, things will start easing up this week because we are expecting cash from the CBN. As soon as we get it, we will be able to load our ATMs and attend to customers at the counter. So, hopefully, things will have normalised to a level before the start of the Ramadan.
“I don’t know if CBN will send new or old notes. They are all legal tender, so we will issue them to our customers,” he said.
In Kano, a staff of First Bank, who asked not to be named, said the bank has not resumed giving out the old naira notes as withdrawals but was collecting deposits of the old notes based on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy.
“We were giving out the old notes on request until last Tuesday when the manager issued a notice that we should stop it. The issue is, people are not using them, they are afraid. So even if you give them, it will not be useful to them,” he said.
Pensioners decry naira scarcity
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) yesterday decried that they were going “through hell” due to the current cash crunch in the country.
They described the naira redesign policy of the government as “planless and thoughtless”, saying majority of them had become beggars.
NUP President, Godwin Abumisi and General Secretary, Actor Zal, told reporters in Abuja that the government should pay them in cash.
“As a result of the naira scarcity, many families, including that of the pensioners have been thrown into a state of hunger and hopelessness as they cannot access cash in their various banks to meet up with their basic necessities and responsibilities,” they said.
Abumisi said pensioners were the worst hit by “this obnoxious, faceless and dehumanizing policy.”
He urged President Buhari to intervene and save the situation from degenerating into further chaos and or crisis.
“It is on the strength of this that the NUP as a pressure group and the true representative of the Nigeria pensioners wishes to strongly appeal that the Federal Government could do better to lessen this burden on the senior citizens by taking some temporary measures of paying the pensions of the pensioners in cash as well as according the pensioners priority and preferential treatment at their banks, ATM and POS paying points to avoid the endless long queues experienced at banks daily.
“This can be achieved by identifying and singling out the pensioners/senior citizens at every pay point and have them attended to immediately to avoid the incident of collapses of older persons at queue points as being experienced currently.
“Or alternatively, the Federal Government could urgently work out any palliative measures for these fragile, endangered species in order to ameliorate their living conditions.”
By Sunday M. Ogwu, Muideen Olaniyi, Seun Adeuyi, Idowu Isamotu, Faruq Shuaibu (Abuja), Abiodun Alade (Lagos), Salim U. Ibrahim, Zahraddeen Yakubu (Kano) & Peter Moses (Abeokuta)
Nigerians can now earn US Dollars by acquiring premium domain names, most clients earn about $7,000 to $10,000, all paid in US Dollars. Click here to learn how to start.