· Abuja residents lament lack of new notes
· CBN faces litigations – CASER
· Apex bank to review policy – Sources
With barely eight days to the January 31st deadline of the phasing outing of old naira notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, there is palpable anxiety amongst residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Residents of the capital territory, weekend, complained of “poor distribution and availability” of the new notes which was unveiled by the apex bank on November 23, 2022.
The Abuja Inquirer observed that some ATMs were still dispensing the old notes, while others were programmed to dispense the old and new mixed together.
Banks employ underhand tactics
At the Access Bank branch at Utako, a withdrawal of N10, 000 from the ATM gives N3, 000 of the new notes, with the rest all old notes.
Also, the UBA ATM just down the road at Ekukinam Street dispenses just N2, 000 of the new notes.
Our correspondent also noted that POS operators were basically giving out old notes, with no new notes.
Some banks have resorted to locking the gates of their banks to stop customers from gaining entry into the ATM area.
For instance, Fidelity Bank in Karu by CBN Junction which sees large number of customers at weekends was firmly locked.
On the same road, Keystone Bank ATM point was out of service.
POS operators dispense old notes
An operator told this newspaper that they were keeping the new notes so as not to weighed down with much old notes in their possession.
Already, some retail outlets like supermarkets have given indications that by January 27, 2023, they will stop receiving the old notes as legal tender.
H-Medix in particular in a notice in its stores notified its customers of their decision as against the January 31st deadline.
CASER warns of litigations
Owing to the seeming defiance of the CBN not to extend the time limit for the use of the old notes, a human rights lawyer and executive director of Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, CASER, Bar. Frank Tietie, has warned of litigations against the governor of the apex bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
Speaking to The Abuja Inquirer on Sunday in Abuja, Tietie said the CBN was under obligation to ensure that all old notes were no longer in circulation by providing the enabling environment for such to happen.
“The CBN is under obligation to ensure that all old naira notes are no longer in circulation by providing the right environment for that to happen. As it stands, there is nothing to show that the apex bank is doing that. The bank will be compelled by law, by the reality of the situation to extend the deadline. By vicarious liability, the CBN is bound to face litigations by the actions of the commercial banks. By the abundance of evidence of old notes in ATMS, the CBN has no option but to extend the deadline,” the CASER boss stated.
He, however, ruled out any social unrest if the CBN fails to address the deadline ultimatum as according to him, it was a matter of policy and regulation, and as “a supposedly responsible organisation it (CBN) will heed to the peoples demands. As it adjusted the cash withdrawal limit, it will do same.”
Some sources told The Abuja Inquirer that the bank will be making a decision on the way forward within the week.
Last week, the bank accused some commercial banks in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, of refusing to dispense the sum of N4.5 billion redesigned notes distributed to them.
The controller of the Rivers State branch of the apex bank, Maxwell Okafor, who led an enforcement team on the newly redesigned notes to some commercial banks and markets in Port Harcourt, said that between Thursday and Friday, the apex bank had disbursed about N4.5b new notes to commercial banks in the state and wondered why many customers were not getting them.
“We have been monitoring the dispensing of the new naira note and the impression we had is not encouraging. We have visited some banks and one of them was not dispensing the new naira notes. Their ATM machines were not functioning, even as early as the time we came. We had it on good authority that the bank received money from the CBN. Some of these banks received money yesterday and the money is still in their vaults.
“In some of the banks, their ATMs are down. There is no explanation for their actions. The CBN has warned that there would be serious consequences for hoarding these new naira notes and giving it to special customers,” he said.