The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned that it will penalise banks that fail to comply with its directive to dispense the newly redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 through their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
The warning was issued by the CBN Director, Currency Operations Department, Ahmed Umar, during a training session for state directors of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Abuja.
Also, in Lagos on Tuesday, the apex bank urged banks to comply with the directive to load their ATMs with the new notes to ensure that they circulate widely.
Umar explained that the purpose of the CBN directive was to implement the January 31 deadline for the withdrawal of old naira notes in circulation.
The apex bank had ordered banks to suspend dispensing the new currency notes over the counter, and to only make them available via ATMs.
Umar said: “We want to use this training session to pass a message that CBN has enough currency notes to go round the general public.
“We, CBN management, have mandated banks to stop putting old notes in their ATM machines. They should only put the new notes.
“And there is a serialisation of the policy that they can put either N500, N1,000 or N200 notes, whichever denomination they have or combination of any of those notes, they should just put new notes in their machines.”
He said: “We are going to monitor to ensure that the banks comply and if they don’t, we have a penalty for non-compliance.”
The CBN director further noted that in many countries across the world, it takes a few years to change a currency, adding that, “in our own case what we had was basically over 20 years of having the same design of note.
“Over that period, what it did to us was to create an avenue for some people to master the act of counterfeiting the note.
“In our own case, what we have is the minimum of 17 years or more for us to redesign our currency.
“If you notice the N1,000 note that was introduced in 2005, it took 17 years for us to redesign it; N500 and N200 notes were also redesigned after 21 years and 22 years, respectively.
“So, if currency notes stay too long in the system, there is a tendency that people who counterfeit make a lot of efforts to produce the same notes. So, that is why there is a need to change our notes regularly,” he added.
Umar further pointed out that the N500 and N1,000 notes constituted 99 per cent of the currency notes being targeted by counterfeiters.
He said: “It is simple logic; the effort you put to counterfeit N1,000 is the same effort you put to counterfeit N5.
“So, why will they waste their energy doing small notes; they always target the higher note, particularly N1,000, because of the values attached to it,” he explained.
Also speaking, the Director General, NOA, Garba Abari, said the partnership with the CBN was geared towards educating the agency’s staff to assist in enlightening Nigerians on the naira redesign policy.
Meanwhile, the CBN has urged banks to comply with the directive to load their ATMs across Nigeria with the new notes to ensure that the redesigned banknotes widely circulate.
CBN Lagos Branch Controller, Godfrey Koyor, made the call at a stakeholders’ sensitisation on the currency redesign at the popular Balogun market in Lagos.
He maintained that the January 31, 2023, deadline date for the retirement of the old notes in circulation remained sacrosanct.
Koyor said: “We are giving everyone the assurance that the new naira notes are available to everyone. We are distributing through the banking system. And as transactions take place, you are going to be having the new ones.
“So as people are giving out the old notes, they’ll be receiving the new notes. We have pushed a lot of the newly redesigned currency notes into circulation and it is going around,” he said.
On the unavailability of the new notes at the ATMs, Koyor said: “I am assuring you that if you go to the ATMs, you will get the new notes. The essence of giving the directive that the new naira notes should be dispensed through the ATM is so that it will be available to people during working hours and off working hours.
“So, whether it is banking hours or outside the banking hours, if you go to your ATMs, you will get the new naira notes. It is a directive that the apex bank has given to all deposit money banks to make the money available in the machines so that people can have access to it and we are supplying them with the new notes and they are making it available to the machines.
“Everyone should have the assurance that the new naira notes are available. We are printing; we are supplying it and we are distributing it. The process is ongoing and sooner or later everybody will have it.
“It is a directive coming from the apex and the banks are complying and we expect every bank to comply. You will not expect 100 per cent at the same time, but the CBN is supplying to the banks and the banks will be replacing them. There are implications for non-compliance from the bank.”
Speaking on calls for an extension of the deadline, he said “right now, the deadline is 31st of January and it is not changing. We haven’t changed the deadline. As I speak with you, the deadline remains sacrosanct and what we are asking the public and the banks to do is to surrender the old notes and take new ones.”
The central bank, in collaboration with the NOA and various market associations, yesterday commenced an aggressive enlightenment and public awareness campaign on the naira redesign project as well as the need to properly handle the naira notes. The initiative tagged, “Market Storm,” commenced in various markets in Gombe, Minna and Asaba, in the first phase, and will also hold in Kano, Ogun and Onitsha on Thursday. The exercise would be extended to other major cities across the country from next week.
“The essence is to continue to enlighten market people on why the naira redesign project was embarked upon, let Nigerians know that they should respect the naira and also encourage them to embrace alternative payment channels,” a central bank official had explained.
On October 26, 2022, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed the bank’s resolve to redesign, produce, and circulate new series of the N200, N500, and N1,000 denominations.
Emefiele had said the move would help to manage money supply, and tackle currency counterfeiting, and terrorism among others.
He had explained that while the circulation of the new banknotes would commence on December 15, 2022, the new and existing currencies shall remain legal tender and circulate together until January 31, 2023, when the existing currencies shall cease to be legal tender.
Emefiele had insisted that the January 31 deadline remained sacrosanct, adding that the 100 days provided for people to deposit existing banknotes in commercial banks was adequate.
President Muhammadu Buhari, had subsequently, on November 23, 2022, unveiled the redesigned banknotes during the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.