By Ononye VC
The expected return to normalcy in banking transactions following the reversal of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) excruciating naira policy has remained elusive as various banks continue dispensing little or nothing of the old and new naira notes.
A look around commercial banks showed that customers who literally sleep in the banks go home with miserable sums like ₦1,000 or ₦3,000, while some stay all day and get nothing. At various moments, anger and frustration have helped to ignite fights among the customers as bank property is destroyed.
Many aged and sick people are said to have either collapsed in the banking hall or outside due the long wait, hunger, exhaustion, hopelessness and other ailments.
A few others have reportedly died in the struggle to collect their own money in the bank.
The CBN had on Monday said old ₦200, ₦500, ₦1,000 banknotes remain legal tender till December 31, 2023. The apex bank’s acting director of corporate xommunications, Isa AbdulMumin, disclosed this in a statement on Monday. This is coming 10 days after the Supreme Court ruled that old naira notes should co-exist with new ones till the end of the year.
“In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law Principle that characterised 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.
“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old ₦200, ₦500 and ₦1,000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023.
“Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly,” the statement read.
The Supreme Court’s ruling came after 16 states of the federation instituted a suit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introduction of the policy.
The 16 states led by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara had prayed the apex court to void and set aside the policy on the ground that it is inflicting hardships on innocent Nigerians.
The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari’s disobedience of its February 8 order is a sign of dictatorship, adding that the president breached the constitution of the federation in the way he issued directives for the re-designing of the naira by the CBN.
After the March 3 judgement by the Supreme Court, the presidency, the CBN and the AGF kept mum, throwing many bank customers and Nigerians into confusion as the ruling of the apex court contradicted the directive of the president on February 16 that old ₦500 and ₦1,000 notes were banned and old ₦200 notes remained valid till April 10.
However, the presidency broke its silence on Monday, saying the president never told the CBN and the AGF not to obey the order of the apex court.
“The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the president,” the presidency noted.
The presidency also said the president is an absolute respecter of the rule of law and that the “negative campaign and personalised attacks against the president by the opposition and all manner of commentators is unfair and unjust”.