Long ATM queues remained across Lagos 72 hours after the Supreme Court decision reversing the apex bank’s new naira note introduction.

Checks by Nairametrics reveal lengthy queues remained at automated teller machines for most banks in Lagos as customers continue to search for cash withdrawals. We also saw long queues for customers seeking cash withdrawals from P.O.S agents.

Most bankers who agreed to speak to Nairametrics on the condition of anonymity tell us they were yet to receive cash despite the judgement. However, they stated that they have started receiving the old notes.

The Supreme Court had in a judgement passed last week chided the federal government for its naira swap policy, going as far as extending the deadline for swapping old for new notes till December 2023. Some state governments have accused the central bank policy of being politically motivated to favour opposition parties ahead of the elections.

Limited payments

Our checks however suggest banks are now complying with the judgment and are gradually paying customers.

  • One banker told Nairametrics “we still don’t have cash and the ATMs are still not loaded that’s why we still have queues. However, we have been told by head office to expect cash this week.”
  • Another banker stated that they started paying customers with the old naira notes in the banking halls but stated that they still did not have enough cash to go around.

However media some media reports tracked by Nairametrics suggest banks operating in the northern part of the country have started paying customers in old naira notes.

Kaduna and Kogi states (middle belt) were one of the states that took the federal government to court. Kaduna state government had actually informed its residents to continue accepting the old notes in defiance of the central bank’s directive.

  • Another banker informed Nairametrics that despite the apex court’s ruling, the central bank’s portal created for depositing old notes is still functional. Banks still require customers to log into the central bank portal to generate a code which then allows the bank to collect the old notes.

Data suggest limited old naira notes

Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling to continue accepting the old naira notes, the data available suggest there might not be enough of the old notes in circulation.

  • According to central bank data for January 2023, currency outside banks, which represents the total currency in the hands of the public, fell to a record low of N788.92 billion.
  • The apex bank was able to mop up N1.78 trillion from the hands of the public with its monetary policies, reducing the currency outside the vaults of the banking system from N2.57 trillion recorded as of December 2022 to N788.92 billion.

Analysts at Nairametrics confirmed that this is the lowest level recorded since December 2015. In a similar development, the total currency in circulation, which adds to the legal tender in the vaults of the Deposit Money Banks, fell sharply to N1.39 trillion in the same period.

These developments suggest there might not be enough cash in circulation to help alleviate the frustrations of Nigerians amidst the supreme court ruling.

CBN has yet to comment

The central bank is also yet to issue any official communication since the judgment was passed.

  • As of Monday evening checks by Nairametrics reveal the apex bank was yet to react to the Supreme Court judgement. There is no official statement on its website and none on any of its social media handles.
  • Some bankers who spoke to Nairametrics on the condition of anonymity also indicated that they had not received instruction from the central bank.