By Francesca Iwambe
Despite silence from the Central Bank of Nigeria, Some commercial banks in Lagos have started issuing the old naira notes to customers at their various automated teller machines (ATMs) terminals and over the counter.
The development is in compliance with the new directive of the supreme court, extending the validity period of the old notes to the end of the year.
Following the controversy that trailed the naira redesign policy of the CBN from October last year, several states sought the supreme court's intervention in extending the validity of the old N200, N500, and N1, 000 notes.
On February 8, the court restrained the CBN from enforcing the February 10 deadline following an ex parte application brought by the states.
It later insisted that the old notes remained legal tender while adjourning the hearing of the case brought against the CBN on the policy on February 15.
Setting a new deadline in its final judgement on the matter last week, the apex court ruled that the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes should continue as legal tender until December 31, 2023.
Meanwhile, investigation has revealed that some commercial banks have stated to comply with the court order, despite silence from the CBN and President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was observed that a Zenith Bank branch in Festac Town paid out the old notes to customers over the counter.
“It has been approved by CBN for circulation till December 31 and that's why we can dispense to our customers,” a bank official said.
Another bank official said the branch had “received orders to begin dispensing old notes to our customers”.
The ATMs at the branches of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) close to Agege-Pen Cinema Bridge, and Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) in the Ikeja area Lagos, were also dispensing the old notes when TheCable reporters visited.
Isa Abdulmumin, CBN spokesperson, said both the old and new notes are legal tender and banks are currently issuing to customers.
However, he said the CBN was yet to issue an official statement on the matter.
“Banks are paying old notes as well as new notes. They are all legal tender,” he said.
“Yes, the CBN has not issued an official statement on the issue. Anyone banks give to you, you can collect. We just want to make life easy for Nigerians.”
Abdulmumin expressed concern on the continued rejection of the old notes by some traders and transporters.
He said the old notes should not be rejected as they are still a valid means of exchange.
“No. They can't reject it. It's all legal tender,” he said.