Concerns As Naira Scarcity Worsens Across States - 9japarrot


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Saturday 11 March 2023

Concerns As Naira Scarcity Worsens Across States


By Nurat Uthman

Eight days after the Supreme Court delivered its final ruling in the lawsuit on the old banknotes and extended their validity to December 31, 2023, the scarcity of the currency still persists across the states of the federation even as many Nigerians have refused to accept the old notes following the failure of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make a pronouncement to that effect.

As a result, the Kogi State government yesterday warned individuals and organisations not to reject the old naira notes to avoid being prosecuted.

In a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Kingsley Fanwo, the state government congratulated Nigerians on the historic ruling of the Supreme Court to the effect that both the old and new naira notes remain legal tenders until December 31, this year, when the old notes will cease to be legal tender. 

Fanwo said: “What this means is that both the old and new naira notes can be accepted for the purpose of transacting business till the end of this year.  

“The reason the Kogi State government joined other state governments in the country to pursue the case was to ease the hardship occasioned by the unavailability of the new naira notes, which the court fully granted. 

“It is therefore unacceptable that some persons and businesses will continue to reject the use of the old naira notes, even after the court judgment validating their use. Rejecting the old naira notes is a clear disobedience of the Supreme Court ruling.

“Anyone who rejects the old naira notes should be reported to security and government authorities for immediate action. Also, banks that refuse to accept old naira deposits shall be sealed as the state government will not accommodate financial institutions that willfully disobey court orders, more so, the orders of the highest court in Nigeria.”  

He urged Kogi people to note that since the banks were issuing the old naira notes, they were bound to also receive it, adding: “We cannot continue to kill our economy after the Supreme Court has granted us freedom.” He disclosed that the state government has set up a high-powered committee to ensure full adherence to the ruling of the Supreme Court. 

“Members of the Committee are the Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning; Commissioner for Information and Communications; Commissioner for Commerce and Industry; the State Security Adviser and the Managing Director, Kogi Enterprise Development Agency. 


“The Committee is to ensure that our people take full benefits of the Supreme Court ruling on the old naira notes and ease the hardship they have been subjected to by the policy that brought so much hardship to the people,” Fanwo said.

In Anambra State, commercial banks have been dispensing the old N1000, N500 and N200 notes to their customers in line with the Supreme Court.

Besides, customers besiege different bank premises as early as 5.00am in some occasions in anticipation of receiving the new notes only to go home disappointed because they could not get any after waiting for hours.

Another problem is that some of the banks still reject collection of the old N500 and N1000 notes, after issuing them to customers, thereby forcing people to reject the N500 and N1000 old notes if given to them.

Mrs. Angela Osundu, who visited one of the new generation banks in Onitsha, said she was given old N500 and N1000 notes, but spending the money has not been easy as traders refused to collect them.

Johnson Nwakuche also narrated his experience, saying that commercial operators of tricycles (Keke), buses and motorcycles announced to passengers that they would not accept old money (N500 or N1000) for transport fare before they board.

“I was traveling to Awka from Nnewi yesterday; the driver while collecting his fare warned that anybody with old N500 or N1000 note should get down,” he said.  

However at Eke Awka market, few traders were collecting the old N500 and N1000 notes at extra cost. Narrating her experience, Ngosika Ogbona said: “I had to pay N1,200 and N2,500 for a painter of garri and beans, respectfully, instead of the old cost of N1,000 and N2,300 just because I had the old notes. It was same for other food items; I paid extra cost.”

Ogbonna said most traders were selling to buyers who had new notes, lamenting that she still had over N15,000 old notes because her bank paid out N20,000 old notes to customers last Wednesday.

Reacting to the development, an activist, Charlie Daniel, said: “People are suffering. You can’t collect your money in the bank freely. People queue, collect numbers and wait in the bank. In most cases, later in the day, your bank will announce that they don’t have money. Many women, mothers will be weeping while going back home.”

The government and CBN must do something. People are loosing their patience and may burst in anger.”A civil servant, Kosy Ikechukwu, also appealed to the CBN governor and the Federal Government to make a concrete statement on the acceptance and use of the old notes so that people would feel comfortable accepting the old N500 and N1000 notes. 

Residents of Osun State have also continued to lament the difficulties they face in accessing cash. Checks by The Guardian in Osogbo, the state capital, revealed that many residents thronged banks but were not able to withdraw.

There was also confusion over the circulation of the old N1000 and N500 currency as some banks that had dispensed it refused to collect them from customers after the CBN denied issuing approval for the Money Deposit Banks to issue them.

A customer of one of the banks, Amara said: “I was paid N10,000 of N1000 and N500 old notes. But I couldn’t spend it at the market because traders refused to collect the old notes from me. To my greatest shock, the bank refused to collect it from me, saying I should visit CBN website to generate some codes before I could return it.”

In Plateau State, the banking system has literarily collapsed since last week as no commercial bank was dispensing naira notes.

The only bank that dispensed new notes about four days ago was Jaiz Bank.

Although residents commended the bank, neither the bank nor any other commercial bank in Jos, the state capital, has dispensed naira notes since then.

A resident, Saidu Momoh, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele to address the suffering of Nigerians, noting that there would be no positive development in the matter without an official directive from them.

In Calabar, the Cross river State capital, residents were also not willing to accept the old currencies. 

This was even as few commercial banks in the state started dispensing the old naira notes last Tuesday via their Automated Teller Machines (ATM).

Ironically, when some customers returned to  the banking halls to deposit same old notes into their respective accounts, the banks rejected the old notes. 

A female petty trader in Calabar described the situation as quite pathetic, offensive and painful. The trader, who preferred anonymity, expressed sadness over Federal Government’s silence on the Supreme Court judgment last Friday. 

“With regard to the old notes, some people are bringing it to the market, and they would say it was First Bank that gave them, but we don’t collect it.

“We are expecting to hear from the CBN governor or the President. Concerning the N200 note, the President made an open declaration that we should collect it, and that was why we started collecting it. But for the N500 and N1000 notes, we have not heard from them.

“I even know someone in the bank that told me not to collect the old notes. Even the people that collected old notes from the bank, when they went back to pay it in, the bank refused to collect it from them; they told them to go to CBN,” she said. 

Some commercial banks sighted along Ndidem Usang Iso road in Calabar yesterday were either under lock and key or rendering skeletal services. 

The situation was the same in Abia State as most banks in Umuahia and Aba were besieged by customers that waited hopelessly to be attended to.

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