The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has dismissed reports that it is considering the withdrawal of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes from circulation.
In a statement on Sunday, the apex bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isa AbduMumimas described the reports as “unfounded speculation”, noting that there is no plan to phase out the three newly redesigned bank notes.
“The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been drawn to a fake news item circulating in the media, particularly in the social media space, suggesting that the bank is contemplating withdrawal of the recently redesigned N1000, N500 and N200 currency banknotes from circulation,” the statement partly reads.
“We wish to state emphatically that such speculation is unfounded and a ploy by some interests to cause panic among members of the public.
“We wish to reiterate that the new and old currency notes have been circulating side by side just as the Bank has been taking delivery of a good quantity of the redesigned bank notes from the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC) Limited.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the redesigned and old notes will continue to be accepted as legal tender. They will circulate side-by-side for transactions ahead of the December 31, 2023 deadline, when the old N1000, N500 and N200 banknotes will eventually be phased out,” the statement concluded.
Recall that the CBN had extended the deadline for the swap of old N200, N500, and N1,000 from January 31 to February 10 following complaints by many Nigerians but the Supreme Court, after a suit filed by some states, held that the Federal Government, the CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the February 10 deadline pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a national broadcast on February 16, directed the apex bank to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days — by April 10, 2023. He also said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes cease to be legal tender in Nigeria.
There was a flurry of reactions and stark criticisms against the president’s directive, including from governors of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Umar Ganduje (Kano); Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and many stalwarts of the ruling APC openly censured and faulted the president’s directive, arguing that it has no grounds because the case is before the apex court.
Leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria like Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome equally faulted the president’s move, saying he cannot overrule the apex court of the land.
The apex court on March 3 ordered that old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes remain valid till December 31, 2023. This was 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 inflicted hardships on innocent Nigerians.
The court subsequently ruled that the president’s disobedience of its February 8 order was a sign of dictatorship, adding that Buhari 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, 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 N500 and N1000 notes are banned and old N200 notes remain valid till April 10.
However, the Presidency broke its silence on March 13, saying the president never told the CBN and the AGF not to obey the order of the apex court.