The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday directed deposit money banks (DMBs) to immediately begin the payment of the newly redesigned naira notes to customers over the counter subject to a maximum daily withdrawal of N20,000 per customer.
In a statement issued by apex bank’s Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, the new directive was aimed at reducing the lingering long queues of bank customers intending to withdraw cash through Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
Nwasinobi, who quoted the apex bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, as giving the directive to banks, stated that the latest move was aimed at ameliorating the hardships bank customers were experiencing in their efforts to use ATMs for cash withdrawal.
Admitting that it had observed difficulties Nigerians have been facing in trying to get money from ATMs, the CBN restated its commitment to making the process of cash withdrawal seamless henceforth for customers and threatened to prosecute racketeers of the banknotes.
It stated: “We have equally noticed the queues at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country and an upward trend in the cases of people stocking and aggregating the newly introduced banknotes they serially obtain from ATMs for reasons best known to them. Also worrisome are the reported cases of unregistered persons and non-bank officials swapping banknotes for members of the public, purportedly on behalf of the CBN.
“We wish to state unequivocally that, contrary to the practice of these unpatriotic persons, it is unlawful to sell the Naira, hurl (spray), or stamp on the currency under any circumstance whatsoever.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 21(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 (As amended) stipulates that ‘spraying of, dancing or matching on the Naira or any note issued by the Bank during social occasions or otherwise howsoever shall constitute abuse and defacing of the Naira or such note and shall be punishable under the law by fines or imprisonment or both.
“Similarly, Section 21(4) states that ‘It shall also be an offence punishable under Sub-section (1) of this section for any person to hawk, sell or otherwise trade in the Naira notes, coins or any other note issued by the Bank”, the apex bank added.
Findings in bank branches monitored by our correspondents in the FCT, Lagos and Kano showed that despite the announcement last Sunday by the CBN governor on the extension of the old currency notes withdrawal deadline to February 10, bank customers had been facing serious challenges in withdrawing old and new banknotes through the ATMs and PoS.
The situation had crippled individuals and business activities over the past days and compelling bank customers to be paying between N1,500 and N2,000 to PoS’ operators on N10, 000 withdrawal
In fact, many customers interviewed by our correspondent on the cash withdrawal challenge lamented over the increasingly scarcity of both the old and new banknotes nationwide.