Following a threat by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to shut down the branches of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the financial regulator has decided to disburse old Naira notes to Deposit Money Banks (DMBs).
The NLC had disclosed on Wednesday, 22 March 2023, that its members will picket all branches of the central bank starting from 29 March 2023, after the Naira scarcity prolonged despite a Supreme Court order that the old N200, N500 and N1,000 remain legal.
Recall that the financial regulator phased out the old Naira notes on 10 February 2023, after only releasing the new banknotes in December.
CBN gave Nigerians two months to exchange their old currencies for the new Naira notes, however, it failed to print enough banknotes to replace the old versions deposited by bank users or kept by Nigerians.
As a result, Naira became scarce in the country. To end the scarcity, several State governments took the Federal Government to court, and the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the state governors on 3 March 2023, stating the old Naira remains legal till 31 December 2023.
The judgement had little or no impact, as scarcity persisted, with Nigerians still buying Naira in black markets, as banks said they don’t have banknotes, as the CBN hasn’t disbursed any to them.
But on Thursday, 23 March 2023, Punch reported that the CBN has asked banks to come collect the old notes after meeting with the Chief Executive Officers of commercial banks.
According to a bank chief quoted, it was also stated that the withdrawal limits set by the central bank will be removed.
“The CBN governor met with bank CEOs this evening virtually. It was a short meeting that lasted for just about 15 minutes. The governor said all old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes will be released to commercial banks beginning from Thursday. The CBN will start with crisp old notes after which the ones deposited by DMBs will be returned. The plan is to flood the economy with cash and ameliorate the challenges Nigerians have been passing through.“
The top bank chief added, “Also, the CBN will be cancelling cash withdrawal limits it put in place recently. This means that individuals can now withdraw up to N500,000 across the counter while corporate bodies can do N5m. The CBN is expected to release a circular to this effect later tonight or tomorrow morning (today). But effectively, things should be back to normal as far the cashless policy is concerned.”