Old Naira notes remain legal tender until Dec. 2023, says CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria says old Naira notes will remain legal tender until December 2023 as ruled by the Supreme Court. This is coming a few hours after President Buhari distanced himself from the bank's non-compliance with the ruling.

Old Naira notes remain legal tender until Dec. 2023, says CBN
L-R: CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele and Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari with the newly redesigned Naira note

It's exactly ten days after the Supreme Court ruled that the old Naira notes should remain legal tender until December 31, 2023. The apex court also nullified the Naira redesign policy, declaring it as an affront to the 1999 Constitution.

In line with the ruling, Isa AbdulMunim, the acting Director of Corporate Communication at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Monday evening, said that the old and redesigned Naira notes will remain legal tender until the end of this year.

"As a regulator, deposit money banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling," Abdulmunim stated. "...all concerned are directed to conform accordingly."

CBN's latest stance on the demonetisation process

The CBN's statement was released three hours after Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari disclosed that he did not instruct the Attorney General and the CBN Governor to disobey any court orders, following widespread criticism. about the Buhari-led government's compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling.

"Following ongoing intense debate about the compliance concerning the legality of the old currency notes, the Presidency, therefore, wishes to state clearly that Buhari has not done anything knowingly and deliberately to interfere with or obstruct the administration of justice," the President's media aide tweeted.

Buhari previously approved the use of old ₦200 notes only as legal tender as a means to ease the supply pressure on citizens, this did not solve the cash shortage.

Prior to this announcement, can confirm that some banks in Jos, North Central, Nigeria, have since started disbursing old Naira notes, however, most traders and transporters have declined to recognise it as legal tender. "They will give you old notes when you withdraw [at the bank] but they won't receive the notes again," a shop owner in Jos metropolis said while pasting a public notice on the entrance of his shop stating that old Naira notes are not legal tender.

Recall that, last December, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced its plan to demonetise the higher denominations of the Naira notes, starting January 31, 2023. This was later extended to February 20, 2023, due to the unavailability of the new Naira notes.

Related Article: A timeline of Nigeria's 2023 demonetisation policy

Godwin Emefiele, CBN's governor said that the reason for the demonetisation is to reduce the amount of cash outside the vaults of commercial banks and also curb counterfeiting. On another hand, the policy was designed to enable the adoption of the CBN's cashless policy and also reduce crime rates in the country.

However, the demonisation process has led to cash shortages since the process commenced, agency bankers are charging withdrawing customers about 10-20% of withdrawn cash. Meanwhile, the queues inside banks and ATMs queues across the country have been overwhelming.

While most people who want to make do with digital payment options have to struggle with issues like failed transactions or poor internet.

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