The fresh move by some Deposit Money Banks to re-circulate old N500 and N1,000 notes suffered a setback on Tuesday as motorists, fuel stations, retailers, traders, and other categories of bank customers rejected the old currencies.
The development came about 48 hours after some commercial banks, particularly Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc and Sterling Bank, began the disbursements of the controversial N500 and N1,000 notes across their branches in major Nigerian cities.
Commercial banks’ decision to re-circulate the old notes followed last week’s Supreme Court order approving the use of old N1,000 and N500 and N200 notes as legal tender for 10 months.
The Supreme Court had last Friday ordered that the old naira notes should be allowed in circulation along with the new notes until December 31, 2023.
The court had said the Federal Government’s naira redesign policy contravened the 1999 Constitution.
However, findings by The PUNCH on Tuesday revealed that key bank customer groups had started rejecting the re-circulated old N500 and N1,000 notes.
Most of them hinged their arguments on the fact the CBN, the banking sector regulator, had yet to approve the use of the old notes as legal tender, except the old N200 note.
Oil marketers, on Tuesday, refused to collect the old N500 and N1,000 notes from customers in Abuja, Nasarawa and Niger states, insisting that Deposit Money Banks had yet to instruct them to accept the old naira bills.
Some filling stations, particularly those operated by independent oil marketers, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, refused to accept the old naira notes on Tuesday despite the order of the Supreme Court and the Central Bank of Nigeria.
At the NNPC Limited’s retail outlet in Nyanya, a major border town between Abuja and Nasarawa State, attendants at the filling station said they had yet to receive instructions from their superiors as regards accepting the old notes.
Similarly, at Khalif filling station, operated by an independent marketer in Kubwa, Abuja, the attendants said they would not accept the old naira bills, but asked customers to pay using a Point of Sale Service machine or via bank transfers.
Aside from filling stations, it was also observed that most traders in the capital city and neighbouring states had yet to start accepting the old notes.
“We are waiting for the presidential directive. The President has not spoken. However, if the banks say we should collect the old notes, of course, we will accept the notes,” the Secretary, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja, Mohammed Shuaibu, stated.
Banks Ration Cash
Meanwhile, banks on Tuesday continued to pay the old N500 and N1000 notes across their counters.
The PUNCH observed that GTB on Zaitech road in Oregun dispensed old N500 over-the-counter to their customers.
Also, a branch of Zenith Bank inside the RCCG Camp in Ogun State, along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, disbursed a maximum of N5,000 to customers in old N500 notes.
Reacting, the President of the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, Dr Uju Ogubunka, said there were no viable reasons for traders and transporters to reject the old naira notes.
“They have nothing to be afraid of. If they are not convinced that they are not supposed to accept them, they can hand it over to those of us in need of it. Anyway, they should accept it, the highest court of the land has taken a position. If there was no case brought before the Supreme Court, they would not have decided on anything. But there was an issue and that issue affected all of us and they took a position. As far as I am concerned that decision is yes and amen.