Nigeria: CBN Directs Banks to Receive, Dispense Old N500, N1000 Notes

The CBN said it gave the directive at a Bankers' Committee meeting held on Sunday.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday directed commercial banks to dispense and receive the old N200, N500, N1000 bank notes.

The bank said the notes remain legal tender until 31 December, as directed by the Supreme Court.

The CBN made this known in a statement by its acting spokesperson, Isa AbdulMumin.

The bank's directive comes after the Supreme Court ruled that the CBN must extend the use of the old banknotes until 31 December due to the negative impact of the policy on Nigerian businesses and households.

"In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law Principle that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023," the statement said.

"Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers' Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023."

Last December, the CBN introduced new N200, N500, and N1000 notes, leading to the withdrawal of the old notes from circulation.

The policy caused chaos across the country, with protests breaking out in different parts of the country.

At the height of the melee, many Nigerians encountered challenges doing business and making cash payments in their daily transactions.

On 8 February, the Supreme Court gave an order restraining the CBN from enforcing the deadline for the phasing out of the N200, N500, and N1000 notes pending the hearing of a lawsuit brought by three states challenging the new currency redesign policy.

The order came as a relief for many bank customers as frustrated Nigerians had besieged ATM points in a bid to access their money.

But despite the order, both Mr Buhari and the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, refused to adhere to the court order.

Again, the Supreme Court on 3 March ruled that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must extend the use of old banknotes until 31 December due to the negative impact of the policy. A seven-member panel of the court, led by John Okoro, unanimously ordered the CBN to continue receiving the old notes from Nigerian citizens.

The court found that President Muhammadu Buhari's directive to the CBN on the withdrawal of old notes and redesign of new banknotes without proper consultation was invalid.

On Monday, hours after the presidency said that Mr Buhari never directed the CBN to disobey the order of the Supreme Court, the CBN directed banks to comply with the apex court's order and accept the old notes as legal tender until the end of the year.

"Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly," the CBN said.

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