Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) across the country yesterday started rejecting the old naira notes despite the Supreme Court order extending the deadline till tomorrow, February 15 when an action would most likely be taken.
Reports across several states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) indicates that the commercial banks were turning down customers who had walked into their branches to deposit old notes collected over the weekend.
Recall that a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court, last week, issued an order of interim injunction halting the plan by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to end the use of the old banknotes of N200, N500, and N1, 000.
The court adjourned the hearing of the main case until tomorrow, February 15.
The decision follows a lawsuit filed by the governors of Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara states, who challenged the naira redesign policy of the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government.
This development left many Nigerians confused. While some were accepting the old notes, others blatantly refused them.
In the same vein, President Buhari who had asked for 7 days to enable him to resolve the crisis caused by the scarcity of new naira notes has remained silent.
Analysts have expressed concern that despite the intervention of the National Council of States, there is no policy statement from both the FG and the CBN, beyond the rhetoric that more of the new notes be printed or the old ones recalculated.
Daily Trust correspondents, who visited commercial banks in Lagos, Abuja, Kwara, Ondo, and Bayelsa states amongst others, observed that the old notes were rejected by the banks.
“I was shocked that the old notes were rejected at the bank today. I took the money I had with me but the bank rejected the old N500 notes,” lamented Mrs Juliet Okoro, who visited one of the old-generation banks in Ikeja.
The situation in Bayelsa State was different as almost all the commercial banks in Yenagoa, the state capital, shut down operations over the alleged security threats to the banks.
The commercial banks around the Amarata axis of Yenagoa, the state capital, were totally closed down with only security men on duty, while Automated Teller Machines (ATM) were not dispensing, as no cash was stored inside.
Similarly, many commercial banks in Ondo State rejected the old currencies from customers yesterday.
According to our reporter in Akure, many customers who besieged the Jaiz Bank at Alagbaka quarters of the state capital said they were advised by the official to take their old notes to the CBN.
Another customer, Mr Owamoyo Tolani Okolo explained that the old notes with him were also rejected at one of the commercial banks located in Owo.
Top officials of UBA, Jaiz and FCMB in Ilorin who spoke with Daily Trust on anonymity confirmed the development adding that all banks in the state have officially started to reject the old notes.
A top management staff of one of the new-generation banks also added that the banks were waiting on the CBN for the next line of action.
He said the banks were not parties in the suit filed by the governors so they were waiting for the CBN to issue a directive on the order.
Zenith bank shutdown FCT branches due to cash crunch
Majority of Zenith Bank branches in the Federal Capital Territory have been shut down due to scarcity of cash, Daily Trust can report. Most of the branches visited in the city centre by Daily Trust were under lock and key with bold notice of closure on the gates.
However, the few branches working were filled with massive crowds who were left unattended due to network glitch and scarcity of cash.
At one of the branches visited by Daily Trust on Monday in the Wuse area of Abuja, the branch manager, when asked why most of their branches in the FCT were shut down, said it was not necessary to open several branches without cash to service customers.
While addressing the mammoth crowd at the entrance of the bank, he said, “Only customers with fund transfer slips will be serviced as the branch currently does not have cash supply from CBN for the day, but will attend to customers and load ATMs as soon as cash comes.”
Filling stations, supermarkets reject old naira notes
Many business operators, especially filling stations and supermarkets across the country have started rejecting the old naira notes despite an order of the Supreme Court temporarily halting the ban on their use.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that the government’s filling station – the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) – is at the forefront of those rejecting the old naira notes from customers.
Our correspondents in Abuja report that fuel attendants at the NNPCL petrol stations in Berger and Zone 4; Total filling stations in Zone 3, Central Area (opposite NNPCL Towers) and Area 11; Conoil in Central Area (opposite NNPCL Towers) and the NNPCL Mega Station in Central Area all rejected the old notes over the weekend.
It was only in the Conoil in the Central Area that the POS was working while all the other petrol stations said their POS were not working due to network glitch.
Also, the popular Shoprite and other supermarkets rejected the old notes, preferring the usage of the POS and bank transfer, which required confirmation before the customer could be served.
One of our correspondents, who visited the H-Medix Supermarket located on Ademola Adetokunbo in Wuse 2, Abuja on Sunday, saw a public notice at the entrance that it would not collect old notes starting from February 10.
The situation was the same in many states of the country including Borno, Imo, Benue, Edo, Niger, Ebonyi, Rivers and Oyo.
Supermarkets give half value of products in Borno
In Borno, our correspondent, who visited filling stations and supermarkets in Maiduguri, observed that virtually all the business outlets were not collecting old naira notes.
He said that in most of the filling stations, they deployed private POS operators and charged N100 per transaction irrespective of the amount of fuel consumed, while old naira notes were rejected.
Policy won’t stop vote buying, says ex-CBN dep gov
A former deputy governor of the CBN, Bayo Adelabu, has said the naira redesign policy is ill-timed. Adelabu, who is the governorship candidate of the Accord Party in Oyo State, also said the current scarcity of naira and fuel were signs that some people were hell-bent on disrupting the forthcoming election.
He stated this in Ibadan at the weekend when he appeared on a live radio programme: “Political Circuit” monitored by our correspondent.
“Ordinarily, the idea of introducing new currency started during my stay at CBN as deputy governor (operations), but a lot of things stopped it and we were looking at the bigger picture.
CBN mum over commercial banks’ action
Efforts to get the Director of Corporate Communications proved abortive as he did not return calls made to his line.
Banks undermining circulation of new notes – EFCC chair
The Chairman of Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, in an interview with Hausa Service of the BBC, asked Nigerians to expose individuals and
organisations hoarding the new naira notes for the agency to track them and seize the money.
He said that some commercial banks were “putting a spanner in the works” in making the new naira bills available to Nigerians.
Bawa said information gathered from the CBN showed that so far, the apex bank had issued new bills to the tune of over N400billion.
He, however, said the commercial banks were refusing to issue them to the public.
Bawa therefore asked Nigerians to expose individuals that ‘hoard’ the new notes, for the agency to track them and seize the money.
According to him, “This is the next stride that EFCC believes will bring succour to the ordinary Nigerians.”
He said a huge reward awaited whistle blowers who helped in exposing the places or the persons who stockpiled the new notes.
“They (commercial banks) are denying the poor people money in the banks and ATM machines. That’s why we send our officials to the states to monitor the banks and the people who are involved in the shoddy deal and undermining the process,’’ he said.
By Sunday M. Ogwu, Kamarudeen Ogundele, Abbas Jimoh, Philip S. Clement, Idowu Isamotu, Dalhatu Liman (Abuja), Abiodun Alade (Lagos), Bassey Willie (Yenagoa), Tosin Tope (Akure), Mumini Abdulkareem (Ilorin), Adenike Kaffi (Ibadan), Hamisu K. Matazu, Olatunji Omirin (Maiduguri), Hope A. Emmanuel (Makurdi), Jude Aguguo Owuamanam (Owerri), Usman A. Bello (Benin), Abubakar Akote (Minna), & Ali R. Ali (Dutse)