Naira crisis: Anxiety as FG, States return to Supreme Court 

 Not less than six states will be at the Supreme Court today (Wednesday) to take on the federal government over the controversial naira swap which has led to serious economic hardship among Nigerians.

Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states had headed to the apex court to challenge the February 10 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the expiration of the old N200, N500 and N1000 denominations.

The apex bank had moved the deadline earlier set for the expiration of the legal tender status of the old notes from January 31 to February 10, soon after CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele met with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Nigerians are going through pains following their inability to get the new notes, while the old notes were being sold to them by Point of Sale (PoS) vendors at exorbitant cost.

With some states taking on the gauntlet following a motion presented before it, the Supreme Court, in an interim injunction February 8, restrained the CBN and the federal government from implementing the February 10 deadline.

Specifically, the Supreme Court ruled that the status quo remains and that the old and new naira notes be spent simultaneously pending when it would hear the matter on Wednesday January 15, 2023..

However, as the three states head to the apex court today, Niger, Rivers and Ogun are joining the trio to pursue the matter, even as the CBN announced Tuesday the old notes had ceased to be legal tender February 10.

The developments are coming at a time when tension had become heightened with Nigerians finding it difficult to do business with the old naira notes even in the face of the scarce new notes, while banks have continued to decline receiving the old notes.

CBN declares

And from the CBN came a declaration that February 10, 2023 deadline stands for old Naira notes and thus ceased to be legal tender.

Emefiele, who made the declaration Tuesday, said there is no need to shift grounds on the deadline since the situation is “substantially calming down as regards the cash crunch due to the commencement of over the counter payments to complement ATM disbursements.”

The CBN boss spoke during a visit to the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss monetary and currency redesign policy of the apex bank.

Emefiele said: “The situation is substantially calming down since the commencement of over-the-counter payments to complement ATM disbursements and the use of super-agents.

“There is, therefore, no need to consider any shift from the deadline of February 10.”

He also said that Point of Sale agents charging above N200 for the CBN cash swap programme would be arrested and jailed.

“Point of Sale (PoS) operators should desist from over charging customer, but rather they should come to the CBN to be compensated,” he said.

On the status of the affected old notes, CBN Branch Controller in Bauchi, Mr Haladu Idris, said the old notes were no longer legal tender since February 10.

“In the last 24 hours, we have been inundated by questions from various angles of the general public about our operational guidelines on the old currency notes, be that as it may, there are so many questions here and there which people have been asking about.

“So for the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state categorically that CBN is ready and is opened to receive all of those old notes based on certain conditions and criteria.

“Customers are free to come to the Bank and deposit which they cannot do at the Commercial Banks anymore because the currency has ceased to be a legal tender since the 10th of this month

“Consequently, the management of the CBN decided that those customers will have a sigh of relief by coming to the offices of the CBN in all the 36 states in the Federation including FCT to deposit their money.

“The customer has to go to the CBN portal and fill a form in the portal, there will be a form there concerning this currency redesign and exchange.

“After filling the form, you generate a code, you either print it or come with it in your mobile phone, give us the code and the information contained therein.

“In the form, you are expected to provide all the basic information about yourself, your account details and the amount you want to deposit,” he said.

“By the time you have done it correctly, you come to the CBN where the code will be accepted from you as well as the money, process and confirm the genuineness or otherwise of the money to avoid receiving fake notes because there are some fake notes in circulation now,” said the CBN.

APC govs kick

Meanwhile, the some All Progressives Congress (APC) governors have continued to condemn the policy, saying it is killing Nigerians.

For instance, the Kano state government warned it would not hesitate to revoke operational licenses of major business owners or take action on anyone who refuses to accept the old naira notes as a means of transaction.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who handed down the warning in a statement issued Tuesday by the commissioner for information and internal affairs, Malam Muhammad Garba, said the old naira notes were still a legal tender.

He said the Supreme Court was emphatic on its interim injunction on the issue of old naira notes which would continue to be used as legal tender hand in hand with the new ones until it gradually and finally phased out.

The governor said “it has come to the notice of the government that some business owners such as supermarkets, malls, banks, restaurants, hotels, traders in markets, filling stations, motor parks, among others, are in the habit of rejecting the old naira notes in business transaction.”

Ganduje further observed that “non-acceptance by some selfish individuals is further worsening the already tensed situation exacerbated by the non-availability of the new naira notes.

“Business and economic activities are seriously affected by the naira redesign and unfortunately some self-centered individuals are cashing on the situation to cause further hardships on the people by not accepting the old naira notes during transactions,” the statement added.

He said the “people have suffered enough untold hardship and therefore the state government would not fold its arms and allow few selfish elements in our midst to worsen the situation.”

The governor called on the people in the state to continue with their lawful businesses and report anyone, who refuses to accept the old naira notes to the appropriate quarters.

…Nasarawa too

Similarly, another APC governor, Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa state, decried the sufferings imposed on Nigerians following the naira redesign policy.

According to him, the pain Nigerians were going through is needless.

Sule stated this in Obi local government in the state during an interactive session with APC stakeholders in continuation of his second term campaign.

He said the reasons Nigerians were facing difficulties was because insufficient naira notes were printed.

He said: “In Nigeria, we have about N3 trillion in circulation but the CBN only printed N200 billion new notes which is inadequate. Actually, the CBN merely collected money from the hands of Nigerians.

“Some people are complaining because they don’t understand the economic situation of the world. They claim that Nigeria has too much money in circulation.

“This is far from the truth, if you look at what is happening in the US, and how that country transited to a cashless society, you will understand better, but 20 per cent of the US wealth is cash in circulation. In India, 15 per cent of the country’s wealth is in circulation.”

 “In Nigeria, the country’s collective wealth is over N50 trillion but out of this, only N3 trillion is in circulation, which is less than five per cent. The argument that there is too much money in circulation in Nigeria is not true. By the time the cash in circulation reaches about N10 trillion, that is when we can push to transit to a cashless society,” Sule further added.


In a related development, Rivers state Governor Nyesom Wike has said the CBN policy was politically motivated and stakeholders promoting it insincere.

Receiving a letter of nomination on the award of Independent Man of the Year 2022 on him by the Independent Newspapers in Port Harcourt, Rivers state  Tuesday, the governor  said shoddy implementation of the naira swap by CBN has worsen living conditions of the poor in Nigeria.

He said: “We are in a difficult situation now. It doesn’t matter what anybody may say. Nigerians are suffering now and as a people we owe that responsibility to cushion the hardship Nigerians are facing and not to worsen the situation.

“Nobody says and let it be on record that there is nothing wrong with redesigning our naira. What we are saying is the implementation will not help, rather it will aggravate the condition that people face, particularly the poor people.”

He said those insisting the policy would curb corruption and eliminate vote- buying during the general election were not sincere.

He said: “The whole thing is being political, and that is not what it is supposed to be. You have also not made the new one available and then you have said we can’t collect the old one again. Now, you that even have money in the bank, you’re not allowed to even collect your money.”

The governor observed that those advocating that Nigerians should embrace internet banking have failed to take into cognisance the fact that vast majority of the citizens, particularly in the rural areas, don’t have bank accounts.

In his remarks, Managing Director Independent Newspapers Steve Omanufeme told Wike: “Everybody can see and know what you have done in Rivers. But beyond that, we are giving this award because of your action which people misunderstood, especially your contribution to good governance, your dogged fight for justice, equity and fairness.

“This award is to put it in history that you were there, you came and you conquered, and even tried to make us, we the spectators, believe in you. We pray we carry it on and tell Nigerians that the oppressed must be released from the shackles.”

Ondo residents storm CBN

As a mark of their frustration, bank customers stormed the Akure branch of the CBN in Ondo state following rejection of the old notes by commercial banks in the state.

The crowd, which included Okada riders, traders, artisans and other residents, besieged the CBN office intending to change their old notes to new ones.

Those who spoke on the development said CBN ought to have respected the Supreme Court order which asked that the apex bank should allow the old and new notes to co-exist.

Information gathered revealed that many commuters, including students were stranded as taxi cabs and Okada riders refused taking old notes with complaints that fuel stations were rejecting the notes while traders followed suite.

A resident, Mr. Henry Olaoluwa, who described the situation as confusing and chaotic, enjoined President Muhammad Buhari to intervene and save the masses from the hardship since many residents still had a lot of old notes owing to bank closure for most of last week in the state.

Also in a statement Tuesday, Ondo state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) chairman, Leke Adegbite enjoined Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to intervene and call the banks to order.

In a chat, a banker who craved anonymity exonerated the CBN from the crisis, saying the banks and masses should be made to do the right thing.

Meanwhile, economic activities were grounded in other areas of the state due to closure of banks for the fifth day running amidst rejection of old naira notes by residents.

Customers who came for one transaction or the other were stranded

A community leader, Madam Abigail Awoete, appealed to government and the CBN to abide by the Supreme Court injunction that old notes should be retained as legal tender.

Falana knocks CBN

Meanwhile, rights activist, Femi Falana SAN, has blasted the CBN for allegedly flouting the interim injunction of the Supreme Court suspending the implementation of the February 10 deadline on the use of the old banknotes.

Speaking Tuesday during a live appearance on Channels The 2023 Verdict, Falana said the government was not ready to comply with the order.

He said: “In a country where the rule of law operates, once the Supreme Court has determined a matter or given an order, it is expected that all and sundry – everybody – will comply with the order.”

He said the statement credited to the CBN that it would not comply with the order of the apex court because it was not a party to the case could only be tenable in a “banana republic.”

“(A) statement was credited to the central bank that since it was not a party to the case, it’s not going to comply with the order. I thought that could only happen in a banana republic.

“I expected the central bank to have issued a statement following the order of the Supreme Court: ‘all actions are stale until the 15th of February’,” he said.

The SAN added that an example should be made of those flouting court orders, stressing that nobody should feel that they were above the law.

“For me, an example has to be made this time around, so that nobody will feel that he’s above the law in our country,” the silk further said. 

About Blessing Anaro, Lagos, Bode Olagoke, Abuja, Barnabas Olabisi, Akure, Dennis Essang, Port Harcourt and Mohammed Yangida, Lafia.

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