After weeks of back and forth on the use of old naira notes, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Monday, 13th March rescind its decision on the use of old Naira notes.
Recall, the apex bank had announced last year that the country will be redesigning the naira- currency used as legal tender in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on November 23rd, 2022 launched the new naira notes which is in 200, 500 and 1000naira denominations.
When the New Naira started circulating in the country
Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria had in a press conference in October disclosed that the newly designed naira notes will be issued to commercial banks for circulation across the country from mid-December 2022.
Emefiele had also said all old notes be returned through commercial banks and will seize to be legal tender from January 31st, 2023.
The back and forth decision of CBN on use of old notes
The CBN had in a directive issued to Nigerians and commercial banks stated that there will be no extension of the deadline for the use of old notes.
After the January, 31st deadline and inability of the Apex bank to ensure a seamless circulation of the new notes to citizens, the governor had extended the deadline to February 10, ten days after the first deadline.
Governor Emefiele while speaking to newsmen at the country home of President Buhari, had said urged Nigerians who could return the old notes to return them to CBN as there will be no extension of deadline.
No new notes in circulation, old notes not accepted across the country: How Nigerians suffered
The decision of the apex bank to withdraw the old notes from circulation and allow only the new notes as legal tender brought untold hardship to Nigerians.
In different cities across the country, there were widespread anguish among citizens who could not access the new notes to buy their needs or pay bills.
At banks across the country, citizens queued for hours to access the money which banks were not disposing. The lack of cash threw the whole country into hardship and frustration.
Also, the decision of CBN which came at the peak of the country’s General elections was condemned by experts and politicians who advised CBN to allow the both currencies to operate side by side till there is enough new notes in circulation.
According to an Abuja-based Economist, Razaq Fatai, “they should temporarily allow both the old and new notes as legal tender until they are able to injecr sufficient new notes in circulation.“
How the Supreme Court wade in
Following the hardship and cash crunch faced by Nigerians, Governors of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara had in a statement urged their citizens to continue to use the old notes as legal tender.
However, the Supreme Court wade into the matter by overriding the naira redesign policy and ordered that the old notes be used as legal tender till December 31st.
The Seven-man panel of the court led by John Okoro jointly directed the CBN to continue to receive the old notes from Nigerians.
The court held that the decision of President Buhari to redesign new notes and withdraw the old ones without due consultation is invalid.
In the judgment read by Emmanuel Agim, a member of the panel, “it is not in doubt that the President refused to comply with the order of the court that the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes should continue to be legal tender.”
CBN Breaks Silence after Court Order
In obedience to the court, CBN on Monday, 13th March rescind its decision on the use of old notes.
The apex bank in a latest development bowed to pressure on the naira policy.
In a release signed by its Spokesperson, Isa Abdulmumin, CBN said the old N200, N500, N1000 notes remain legal tender.
CBN said, “accordingly, the CBN met with Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old 200, 500 and 1000 bank notes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023.”
“Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly,” the release added.