Again, CBN Threatens to Sanction Banks Dispensing Old Banknotes via ATMs

·       Continues nationwide sensitisation on naira redesign project

·       Monitors ATMs to ensure banks’ compliance

·       Panic grips Ogun residents, traders as deadline draws closer

Amby Uneze in Owerri, Igbawase Ukumba in Lafia, James Sowole in Abeokuta, Fidelis David in Akure and Francis Sardauna in Katsina, Okon Bassey in Uyo, Nume Ekeghe in Lagos, Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt, Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia, Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano, Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan, Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City, Seriki Adinoyi in Jos and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday continued its nationwide sensitisation on its naira redesign project, threatening to sanction banks that still dispense old N200, N500 and N1000 through their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)

 In Nasarawa State, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, handed down the threat at a one-day sensitisation meeting with traders in Lafia on the redesigned new naira notes. 

Represented by the Director of Security Services at the CBN, Mr. Atiku Mohammed, the CBN governor called on residents of Nasarawa State to reject old naira notes dispensed to them by any commercial any bank henceforth. 

He said: “When you go to any bank and you are issued the old N200, N500 and N1000, do not collect from January 31, 2023, because you will be collecting tissue paper that will not be acceptable from January 31, this year. 

“We will sanction any bank in Nasarawa State and elsewhere found guilty of dispensing the old naira notes at ATMs to customers. 

“The central bank has supplied adequate new naira notes to the various commercial banks. Nobody should collect the old naira notes again. If any bank issues you old naira notes, report such bank to the CBN for appropriate action.” 

The CBN governor therefore insisted that despite appeal by some traders calling for extension of the deadline, there would be no extension of the date to phase out the old naira notes. 

Following complaints raised by residents and traders at the sensitisation meeting between the CBN with traders, the CBN boss decided to visit five commercial banks in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, to ascertain the level of compliance to the directive given by the apex bank. Among the commercial banks visited were Access Bank, Zenith Bank, United Bank for Africa Plc, FCMB, First Bank, GTBank, among others as they were found despensing the old naira notes.

Lagos State

In Lagos State, findings by THISDAY showed that more banks have started to comply with the CBN’s directive for them to load their ATMs with the new banknotes. THISDAY findings showed that more bank branches across Lagos Island and some parts of Lagos mainland have started complying. The apex bank had in recent days intensified its awareness campaign across Nigeria to enhance acceptance of the new banknotes.

Speaking on the sidelines of the monitoring process, a Deputy Director, in CBN, Mr. Seyi Badmus noted that all the banks had been adequately supplied with the new notes and that the information on how much was given to each bank indicates that they should be fully able to comply with the directive.

“The data we have confirmed that all banks should have new notes to dispense and the banks that claim they don’t have, our monitoring team nationwide is going around to confront them and we would ensure that banks fully comply to dispensing the new notes,” he added. 

Ogun State

In Ogun State however, some residents and traders are now panicking as the deadline for depositing the old banknotes approaches.

The worries of the citizens were heightened as commercial banks in Abeokuta were still paying their customers both over the counter and through the ATMs old notes.

The situation has persisted despite the threat by the CBN to sanction any bank that as at yesterday was still paying their customers the old notes.

The traders expressed their concerns during a sensitisation and awareness campaign on the redesigned currency notes held by the CBN, at Lafenwa Market in  Abeokuta North Local Government area of the states.

The sensitisation exercise, attended by market leaders and some traders, was conducted in Yoruba Language by CBN officials, who assured traders of their money, if they deposit such in their banks before January 31,2023 deadline.

Addressing the gathering, the CBN Abeokuta Controller, Alhaji Wahab Oseni, explained reasons that necessitated the redesign of the three naira notes.

He advised those who do not have bank account to approach any bank of their choice, to get one.

Oseni also said the CBN would sanction any bank that continues to dispense the old notes, stating that the apex bank, had made available huge new currency notes, to commercial banks.

Imo State

In Imo State, the apex bank took its sensitisation tour to the popular relief market and other rural markets in Owerri municipal city.

Enthusiastic traders turned out in their large numbers to learn about the features of the new naira notes which was introduced in the country last month.

Branch Controller of CBN in the State, Mrs. Oyoburuoma Boma, encouraged the traders to embrace the new banknotes.

She encouraged the point of sales (POS) agents to start making their transactions in accordance with the cashless policy, adding that it would help reduce theft occasioned in the business world.

According to her, when you go cashless, “it will help prevent armed robbers that often attack you and steal your money, there is everything to benefit from the CBN policy.”

Boma also used the opportunity to educate the traders on how to recognise the new currency notes, and warned residents, market women and leaders not to pay charges while depositing the old naira notes to their respective commercial banks in Imo state.

Ondo State

In Ondo State, officials of the central bank yesterday stormed ATM galleries in different commercial banks in Akure, with a view to ensuring compliance with payment order on the redesigned naira notes.

The CBN Director, Branch Operation, Mrs. Elizabeth Fasoranti, who led the team of officials of the apex bank to GTBank, Zenith Bank and Wema Bank ATM galleries at Alagbaka, Ijapo Estate, Akure, to verify if they were dispensing new redesigned naira notes said the level of compliance was improving.

Addressing traders at the Shasha market, Fasoranti urged them to take their cash to the bank so that they could change to the new redesigned Naira notes.

She emphasised that the redesigned currencies can never be counterfeited and encouraged the public to explore other payment channels, such as eNaira, PoS, electronic transfer, USSD, internet banking, and mobile money operators and agents, for their economic activities.

But some residents of Ondo State lamented the non-availability of the new currencies at some of the ATMs.

The Iyaloja of Shasha market, Mrs. Bosede Abidakun, noted that there were some other public open markets which needed enlightenment on the naira redesign project.

Katsina State

However, in Katsina State, the CBN said it would not extend the deadline despite pressure from Nigerians.

The nation’s apex bank also warned commercial banks in the country to desist from dispensing the old currencies through their ATMs.

Addressing traders at the Katsina Central Market on the need to change their old currency, the CBN Director of Currency Operations, Ahmed Bello Umar, said the bank has no plan to extend the deadline.

Umar explained that the apex bank has enough new naira currency which have since been distributed across commercial banks for onward disbursement to their respective customers through ATMs.

He added that the management of the CBN had directed that from Friday last week, “all ATMs must carry only new notes. If the banks don’t have the new notes they should not load the old notes.”

Rivers State

In Rivers State, officials of the CBN yesterday, stormed different market locations in the state, , sensitising the traders on its naira redesign project.

The Branch Controller of CBN in Port Harcourt, Mr. Okafor Maxwell; Deputy Director, Strategy Management Department of CBN, Abuja, Emenike Eleonu and other officials led the sensitisation programme to Mile 1, Fruit Garden and Creek Road markets in Port Harcourt. 

The CBN team also visited some major banks, including Access Bank, Union Bank, First Bank, United Bank of Africa, others, to monitor the level of compliance to dispensing of the redesigned currency in their ATMs.

Addressing the traders at Mile 1 market, Port Harcourt, Okafor, harped on the benefit of the redesigned currency.

He also warned that the central bank would not extend the deadline.

He said: “The CBN which started cashless policy since 2012, is now set to deepen it in Nigeria, and there is no going back. Henceforth, tracking of currency that leaves the CBN has started with the redesigned money.”

On his part, Deputy Director, Strategy Management Department of CBN, Abuja, Emenike Eleonu, said, “I am quite impressed with what is happening here today, the idea is for to make people put their monies back in the bank so that the old currency could be out of circulation.”

Abia State

In Abia State, the CBN took its awareness campaign to Umuahia and Aba. Officials of the CBN went round Umuahia the capital city and the commercial  its of Aba to monitor and evaluate the level of compliance by banks in making the new notes available to customers through ATMs as directed by the apex bank.
Speaking at the event, the CBN Director of Corporate Communications, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi explained that the awareness campaign became necessary to make Nigerians understand the reasons behind the naira redesign project.

The CBN spokesman said that people should embrace other payment channels such as ATMs, internet banking, mobile banking among others, adding, “it is very dangerous to carry cash” these days.
He, therefore urged traders and other Abians to cultivate the habit of transacting their businesses without carrying huge amounts of money about as the apex bank has provided seamless payment systems for people to utilise.
The chairman of Ariaria Market Traders Association(AIMATA), Chief Emeka Igara thanked the CBN for bring the awareness campaign to the door steps of traders and appealed for the extension of the January 31 deadline for phasing out the old notes.

Kano State

In Kano State, the apex bank yesterday, threatened to sanction banks found hoarding the new naira notes.

The Branch Controller of the CBN in Kano, Alhaji Umar Ibrahim Biu assured bank customers that the apex bank has produced enough notes for distribution to all banks across the country.

Umar said the traders have the right to report any bank found either hoarding the new naira notes or charging customers before depositing their old naira notes in their banks.

“You have the right to report any bank found hoarding the new naira notes or refuse to collect your old naira notes before the 31st January 2023 deadline.”

The CBN Kano Branch Controller was at the popular Kwari Market, Wapa Bureau De Charge Market, Kofar Wambam market and the famous Kurmi market.

Cross River

Similarly, in Cross River, the CBN staged sensitisation rallies in markets, motor parks, and other business areas as part of its efforts at educating Nigerian on the redesigned Naira notes.

The sensitisation rallies which commenced in the morning and ran through most of the afternoon, were held separately at Watt Market, Etim Edem Park, Bogobiri, Marian market, Ikot Ishie Market and  8 Miles Market, all in Calabar metropolis.

The Branch Controller, CBN, Calabar, Glory Iniunam, who addressed residents of the state at the rallies with similar messages and advice, said that the essence of the exercise was to keep the people informed on the new naira notes, and the deadline for the use of the old notes

Iniunam told the people to return the old N200, N500, and N1000 to the banks before the January 31st deadline set by the CBN for the old denominations to be withdrawn from the banking system.

Akwa Ibom State

In Akwa Ibom State, the CBN was lauded for the ongoing enlightenment campaigns on its naira redesign project.

The commendations were made when officials of the CBN, Akwa Ibom State branch took the sensitisation exercise on the new naira notes to Itam park and Itam market all within the Uyo metropolis.

The CBN officials led by the Deputy Director, Abuja office, Mr. Ekanem Akpan and Assistant Director, Head Banking, Uyo branch, Mr. Isang Agbomi, stormed the park and the market with thousands of flyers for the sensitization exercise. 

Some of the people who reacted said they were happy to see officials of the CBN coming to the park and market to educate them on the development in the new monitary policy in the country.

A driver, Mr. Emmanuel Udoh said they don’t have power to reject the redesign naira notes since it was government directive and policy.

He regretted that members of the public might not be able to meet the January 31, 2023, deadline calling for extension to the month of March. 

Udoh reasoned that if the period to end the use of the old currencies was not extended, things would be difficult with Nigerians because the new currencies are not even enough in circulation. 

Edo State

In Edo State, the CBN took the campaign on the availability and admissibility of the new naira notes to Edo markets where it also urged the people to replace their old notes with the new ones.

The apex bank told them to accept the new banknotes, adding that there was no plan to shift the January 31st deadline for the old ones to be out of circulation.

  Speaking at a sensitisation workshop at the popular Oba Market in Benin City, the Assistant Director and Acting Branch Controller, Benin Branch of the CBN, Michael Mgbeze, also said the apex bank have sufficiently provided the new banknotes to banks assuring that from this weekend, all ATMs would no longer dispense the old notes.

He urged the people to adopt other alternatives of transacting business like the e-naira, among others, saying, “We want people to be aware of the new notes and we also introduced the e-naira and we are doing onboarding for those that are not yet in the digital currency.

“The essence of the exercise is for people to use other channels of transaction like the internet banking, banking app, the USSD, PoS. there are always many alternative channels for payment but because we are used to naira, we want to us cash at all times. The message is that people should try and shift their base and use alternative channels for business transactions.”

 Also speaking the State Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Austin Odile said: “This is an election year and some of these persons feel that this redesign is targeted at them but whatever they meant by that, I cannot fathom.”

Oyo State

In Oyo State, the central bank expressed its commitment to ensure that the new naira notes circulate to every nook and cranny of the country before the January 31, 2023 deadline.

This was just as it said adequate new naira notes have been dispensed to the banks in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, for onward distribution to the banks all over the state.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who spoke through the Branch Controller, Ibadan, Mrs. Olufolake Ogundero, during sensitisation to Dugbe and Aleshinloye markets in Ibadan, said the bank has been dispensing the new naira notes to the commercial banks before December 15, last year, stating that the deadline of January 31, 2023 still stands.

She said the CBN would not hesitate to sanction any bank who refuses to comply with the directives on the new naira notes, noting that the sanction will vary based on the infraction committed by the bank.

Ogundero disclosed that the motive of the sensitisation was to inform the public about the newly redesigned naira notes, stating that it was also organised to inform them on the need to deposit the old notes before the deadline.

She enjoined market men and women to ensure that they deposit the old notes at their commercial banks before the deadline, disclosing that there is no limit to how much a customer can deposit between now and the deadline.

She however admonished them to explore other payment channels, such as eNaira, the Point of Sales, electronic transfer, the USSD, Internet banking and mobile money operators and agents, for their economic activities.

Plateau State

The CBN also took its public awareness campaign on the redesigned naira notes to traders to the outskirt community of Jos, saying it was part of the apex bank’s strategies to create more awareness among the remote populace on the redesigned naira notes.

CBN’s Director of Payment System Management, Alhaji Musa Jimoh, who led the sensitisation team to building materials market at Sabon Barki, said, “We are here in the market to sensitise the traders about the new currency and to demonstrate to them some of the features of the new currency so they can identify and differentiate it from the purported fakes that are being circulated.”

Throwing light on the benefits of the redesigned currency, Jimoh said, “it will help with the implementation of monetary policies as there will be more data on money supplies and monetary aggregates, and will bring the hoarded currencies into the banking system, warning that banks who fail to comply with the directive would be sanctioned.”

Also speaking, the Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mrs Grace Tabwassah said all hands are on the deck to ensure that the general public was sensitised on the new notes.

Kwara State

In Kwara State, the Chairman, Kwara State Council of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs and Emir of Ilorin Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari yesterday urged the CBN to make the redesigning of the country’s currency a five-year policy so as to address cases of counterfeiting of the banknotes by fraudsters.

The first class monarch who made the remarks in Ilorin, yesterday, when some bank commercial bank managers in the state led by Ilorin branch Controller, CBN Lamidi  Najim were in his palace on a sensitisation visit of the January 31st expiration date of the old N200, N500 and N1,000.

The bankers also took the sensitisation to some markets and streets distributing leaflets in Ilorin metropolis.

 Sulu-Gambari tasked the apex bank not to be distracted by criticisms of some Nigerians that the new currencies were fake. The monarch promised to relay the message to all the monarchs in the state for onward transmission to their various subjects.

Speaking with reporters, Najim said the deadline for the cessation of the old notes was sacrosanct, adding that “CBN will not extend the date.”

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