The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday directed banks to continue to issue and accept old and new Naira banknotes nationwide.
The apex bank, in a statement issued by the Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mrs. Sidi Ali Hakama, clarified: “Following the order of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, November 29, granting the prayer of the Minister of Justice and Attomey-General of the Federation to extend the use of old Naira banknotes ad infintum, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed all its branches to continue to issue and accept all denominations of Nigerian banknotes, old and redesigned, to and from deposit money banks (DMBs).
Specifically, the statement reads: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Supreme Court ordered that the old versions of the N200, N500, and 631,000 banknotes shall continue to be legal tender, alongside the re-designed versions.
“Accordingly, in line with Section 20(5) of the CBN Act 2007, all banknotes issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will continue to remain legal tender indefinitely.
“Members of the public are enjoined to continue to accept all Naira banknotes (old or redesigned) for their day-to-day transactions and handle these banknotes with the utmost care to safeguard and protect the lifecycle of the banknotes.”
“Furthermore, the general public is encouraged to embrace alternative modes of payment, such as e-channels, in order to reduce pressure on the use of physical cash”, the apex bank added.
It would be recalled that in November, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had said the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes would remain legal tender indefinitely.
The Supreme Court had on Wednesday ruled that both old and new notes should remain as legal tenders until the Federal Government has put a process in place for its replacement or redesign after due consultation with relevant stakeholders.
The seven-man panel, led by Justice Inyang Okoro, gave the ruling following an application by the Federal Government asking the court to grant an extension of time for old naira notes to remain in circulation as a legal tender.
The government also asked the court to lift its March 3 order, noting that the extension of time is necessary as it has not been able to print the volume of new notes that would enable a phasing out of the old currency before the December 31 deadline.
In the fresh application filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the government explained that should the Supreme Court decline its request to extend the period of circulation of old notes, the country stood the risk of descending into another national, economic and financial crisis as witnessed in the first quarter of the year when the naira redesign policy was implemented under the former CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.
It, therefore, asked the court to allow the old notes to be in use with the new notes until it has consulted with stakeholders, pointing out that the economy may be in jeopardy once again because some Nigerians have started hoarding the old and new naira notes ahead of the December 31, 2023 deadline.
In a unanimous decision, the seven-man panel accepted Fagbemi’s application.