Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) across the country yesterday started rejecting the old naira notes despite the Supreme Court order extending the deadline till tomorrow, February 15 when an action would most likely be taken.
Daily Trust findings across several states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) indicates that the commercial banks were turning down customers who had walked into their branches to deposit old notes collected over the weekend.
Recall that a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court, last week, issued an order of interim injunction halting the plan by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to end the use of the old banknotes of N200, N500, and N1, 000.
The court adjourned the hearing of the main case until tomorrow, February 15.
The decision follows a lawsuit filed by the governors of Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara states, who challenged the naira redesign policy of the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government.
This development left many Nigerians confused. While some were accepting the old notes, others blatantly refused them.
In the same vein, President Buhari who had asked for 7 days to enable him to resolve the crisis caused by the scarcity of new naira notes has remained silent.
Analysts have expressed concern that despite the intervention of the National Council of States, there is no policy statement from both the FG and the CBN, beyond the rhetoric that more of the new notes be printed or the old ones recalculated.
Daily Trust correspondents, who visited commercial banks in Lagos, Abuja, Kwara, Ondo, and Bayelsa states amongst others, observed that the old notes were rejected by the banks.
“I was shocked that the old notes were rejected at the bank today. I took the money I had with me but the bank rejected the old N500 notes,” lamented Mrs Juliet Okoro, who visited one of the old-generation banks in Ikeja.
The situation in Bayelsa State was different as almost all the commercial banks in Yenagoa, the state capital, shut down operations over the alleged security threats to the banks.
The commercial banks around the Amarata axis of Yenagoa, the state capital, were totally closed down with only security men on duty, while Automated Teller Machines (ATM) were not dispensing, as no cash was stored inside.
Similarly, many commercial banks in Ondo State rejected the old currencies from customers yesterday.
According to our reporter in Akure, many customers who besieged the Jaiz Bank at Alagbaka quarters of the state capital said they were advised by the official to take their old notes to the CBN.
Another customer, Mr Owamoyo Tolani Okolo explained that the old notes with him were also rejected at one of the commercial banks located in Owo.
Top officials of UBA, Jaiz and FCMB in Ilorin who spoke with Daily Trust on anonymity confirmed the development adding that all banks in the state have officially started to reject the old notes.
A top management staff of one of the new-generation banks also added that the banks were waiting on the CBN for the next line of action.
He said the banks were not parties in the suit filed by the governors so they were waiting for the CBN to issue a directive on the order.
Majority of Zenith Bank branches in the Federal Capital Territory have been shut down due to scarcity of cash, Daily Trust can report. Most of the branches visited in the city centre by Daily Trust were under lock and key with bold notice of closure on the gates.
However, the few branches working were filled with massive crowds who were left unattended due to network glitch and scarcity of cash.
At one of the branches visited by Daily Trust on Monday in the Wuse area of Abuja, the branch manager, when asked why most of their branches in the FCT were shut down, said it was not necessary to open several branches without cash to service customers.
While addressing the mammoth crowd at the entrance of the bank, he said, “Only customers with fund transfer slips will be serviced as the branch currently does not have cash supply from CBN for the day, but will attend to customers and load ATMs as soon as cash comes.”
Filling stations, supermarkets reject old naira notes
Many business operators, especially filling stations and supermarkets across the country have started rejecting the old naira notes despite an order of the Supreme Court temporarily halting the ban on their use.
Findings by DT correspondent revealed that the government’s filling station – the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) – is at the forefront of those rejecting the old naira notes from customers.
DT correspondents in Abuja report that fuel attendants at the NNPCL petrol stations in Berger and Zone 4; Total filling stations in Zone 3, Central Area (opposite NNPCL Towers) and Area 11; Conoil in Central Area (opposite NNPCL Towers) and the NNPCL Mega Station in Central Area all rejected the old notes over the weekend.
It was only in the Conoil in the Central Area that the POS was working while all the other petrol stations said their POS were not working due to network glitch.
Also, the popular Shoprite and other supermarkets rejected the old notes, preferring the usage of the POS and bank transfer, which required confirmation before the customer could be served.