The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has threatened to sanction commercial banks still dispensing old naira notes.
Speaking in Abeokuta on Thursday, the CBN’s Branch Controller in Ogun State, Lanre Wahab, told traders at Lafenwa Market in Abeokuta, the state capital, that the Apex bank would not hold anything back from placing “severe sanction” on any commercial banks found wanting.
The CBN had introduced the new N200, N500 and N1,000 notes and issued a January 31 deadline for the phasing out of the old notes.
“They are going to be penalised wherever we still find old notes that have been redesigned, N200, N500, and N1,000,” he said.
“Any bank that is found still issuing or dispensing them will get sanctioned by the Central Bank of Nigeria,” he warned.
Mr Wahab said the CBN will soon commence spot checks on Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) to ensure compliance by banks.
He said any bank that is sanctioned will have no excuse as the CBN has since January 13 directed commercial and deposit banks to stop issuing the old notes to customers.
Mr Wahab also enjoined Nigerians, particularly residents of Abeokuta, to seize the window of opportunity provided by the CBN to exchange the old notes for new ones before the expiration of the deadline.
Embrace the new naira notes
CBN officials visited major markets in Kano to sensitise traders on the new naira notes.
They include Galadima, Sabon Gari, Wapa, Kwari and Kofar Wanbai Markets.
Speaking during the visit, the branch controller, CBN Kano, Alhaji Umar Biu, urged traders to embrace the new naira notes by visiting their banks and other financial institutions to exchange the old notes.
Alhaji Biu said the redesign of the naira notes was aimed at addressing corruption, inflation as well as boosting the nations economy.
The branch controller stressed that the old naira notes are still valid till January 31 2023, saying the Apex bank had issued the new naira notes to banks and financial agents to ensure “adequate circulation”.
“CBN agents are going round to ensure banks comply with the directives of dispensing the new notes via ATM,” he said.
Also speaking, the state director, National orientation agency (NOA), Kano office, Alhaji Salisu Kutama, charged traders to desist from rejecting the old naira notes before the January 31 deadline.
He cautioned business owners to avoid exchanging their old naira notes from unverified financial institutions, as fraudsters have started printing fake notes to swindle unsuspecting Nigerians.
Appeal for extension of deadline
In separate remarks, Chairmen of Galadima, Sabon Gari, Wapa, Kwari and Kofar Wambai markets association, Alhaji Mustapha, Alhaji Saleh Umar Kura and Alhaji Abba Muhammad Bello , identified inadequate circulation of the new notes as a major hindrance to business activities.
According to them, many traders in the rural areas do not own bank accounts for depositing their cash, and others simply receive goods from major marketers on credit and offer cash as payment.
They said the commercial banks had given them a deadline of January 22 for collection of the old naira notes.
The market Chairmen appealed to the federal government and other stakeholders to consider the plight of business owners as well as a possible extension of the deadline.
Reporting by Khadija Aliyu and Oluwaseyi Ajibade; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino and Tony Okerafor