CBN did not authorise banks to collect old ₦500 and ₦1000 notes

The Central Bank of Nigeria has debunked reports that it authorised commercial banks to start accepting the old ₦500 and ₦1000 notes.

CBN did not authorise banks to collect old ₦500 and ₦1000 notes
The new Naira notes

On Friday afternoon (Feb. 17, 2023), several local news outlets reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ordered banks to start collecting the old ₦500 and ₦1000 notes from the public with immediate effect.

In a turn of events, Osita Nwanisobi, CBN's director of corporate communications released a statement denying these media reports which credited him as the source of the information.

"The attention of the CBN has been drawn to some fake and unauthorised messages quoting the CBN as having authorised deposit money banks to collect the old ₦500 and ₦1000 banknotes," Nwanisobi said. "For the avoidance of doubt...the CBN has been directed to only reissue and recirculate the old ₦200 banknotes and this is expected to circulate as legal tender for 60 days up to April 10, 2023."

Recall that on Thursday (Feb. 16, 2023), Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari asked that the "old ₦200 bank notes be released back into circulation and that it should also be allowed to circulate as legal tender with the new ₦200, ₦500, and ₦1000 banknotes for 60 days from Feb. 10, 2023, to April 10 2023."

This decision, Buhari says, is aimed at cushioning the chaotic effect of the ongoing demonetisation process in the country. Although the nation's Supreme Court temporarily halted the process following a lawsuit by three governors from Northern Nigeria challenging the Naira redesign, businesses and individuals across the country have since started rejecting the old Naira notes—that ceased on Feb. 10, 2022. This is despite a nationwide scarcity of new notes.

Earlier this week, the CBN launched a portal for the redemption of old currency through a Cash Deposit Program which ended today. This morning in Kaduna, a crowd of mostly local traders were seen at the CBN branch trying to redeem the old currencies via the cash deposit program.

"They did not attend to us, we were asked to make the deposits at commercial banks," a businesswoman who was among the crowd at the CBN Kaduna state branch told "I just left because the crowd was becoming aggressive."

Kaduna state's governor, Nasir El-Rufai, is one of the governors that filed a lawsuit against the ongoing demonetisation process. In a nationwide broadcast today, El-Rufai assured residents of the state that the old ₦1,000, ₦500 and ₦200 notes and other notes are valid for the next 100 years.

"Let no artificial and illegal deadline frighten you. Whether you live in towns, villages or in our isolated rural communities, do not feel stampeded to deposit your old notes in the banks. Hold on to them. Continue to use them as legal tender as ordered by the Supreme Court of Nigeria," he added.

Amidst this chaos, the CBN has asked members of the general public to disregard any contrary information that is not released on its official channel.

Editor's Note: This is a developing story

Get weekly insights on tech startups and VC in Africa