Nigerians who collected old Naira notes from commercial banks are facing challenges in spending the money, as many members of the public continue to reject them for business transactions.

The controversy culminated in a Supreme Court ruling on March 3, 2023, which validated the use of old Naira notes till December 31, 2023.

However, the Supreme Court ruling has not resolved the issue, as many Nigerians are still unwilling to accept the old notes.

Some members of the public are skeptical about the legal status of the old notes, while others are concerned about the security risks associated with using physical cash, such as theft and counterfeiting.

The rejection has left some people stranded and unable to spend the money. The situation has also generated frustration and confusion among Nigerians, with many calling on the government to provide clarity on the matter.

Some state governments have even threatened to sanction anyone who rejects the old notes for business transactions, while others are urging the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Government to make an official statement on the matter.

Nigerians lament

In Lagos State, Mr. Matthew Aburime, a student of Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu, expressed disappointment, saying he had been unable to spend the money he collected from a bank. He narrated how a commercial bus driver rejected the old notes when he tried to pay for his fare.

Speaking to reporters of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) he said

  • “I came from Ikorodu to Ajao Estate to spend some time with my grandmother, unfortunately for me, when it was time for me to go back to my base, there was no liquid cash to be given to me.
  • “Someone, then, told me that a nearby bank was paying old notes. Since it was from a commercial bank, I felt they would pay based on the instruction of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
  • “Then, I went and queued, eventually, I was able to withdraw N10,000 from the bank.
  • “As we speak, the money is still with me, I’ve not been able to spend it; the first rejection was from a commercial bus driver.”

Mr Daniel Okpulonu, a trader, also shared same regrets.

  • “When I realised that the old notes I was receiving from my bank were not legal tender was when a bank official announced that people who had received the old notes should not bother bringing it back to deposit, as it would not be accepted.”
  • “As we speak, I am still going about with the money looking out for where I can spend it.
  • “This is not good enough; government should tell us what they want from us. Nigerians have suffered enough since the inception of this policy,” he said.

Mr Brian Achilefu, a Clergy, blamed the situation on the inability of many banks to dispense the old notes after the Supreme Court judgement. According to him, it is not a good sign when institutions begin to disrespect the authority of the Supreme Court.

  • “The CBN should obey the court ruling and do as it ordered so that people and everything can go back to normal,” he said.Mrs Abimbola Alli, a trader at Jakande Estate Market, Okeafa, told NAN she only accepts new notes.
  • According to her, she took the few old notes that she accepted from her customers to the bank but was turned back.
  • “Is that the situation that you want for me again? Never will I collect old notes again.
    “Other traders are not collecting old notes in this market; I was the only one accepting it.
    “When I could not deposit it in my bank and Okada riders also refused to accept it, I decided not to accept it anymore,” she said.

A NAN correspondent who monitored various markets, commercial banks, bus parks and Point of Sales on Friday in Benin City, reports that the old N500 and N1000 notes are being rejected.

The residents told NAN that they would only accept the old notes when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Government make an official statement to that effect.

They also said that the non acceptance of the old notes was fueled by the commercial banks demanding the generation of certain codes before the notes could be deposited at the banks.

According to Mr Paul Emeka, a fashion designer, who spoke with NAN, I heard about Gov. Obaseki urging people in the state to accept the old notes, but most people are refusing to accept them.

  • “I entered a commercial bus this morning, but the driver said he will not collect the old N1,000 that I wanted to use to pay him for transportation fare.
  • “I collected the old N1,000 from a commercial bank a day ago, and now, I can’t use it to pay for goods and services.
  • “I even told the bus driver that Governor Obaseki has asked people in the state to collect the money, but the driver refused.
  • “The driver said that he wanted to buy fuel with the old N500 notes he collected from passengers a day before, but the fuel attendant refused to accept”.

State Governmen continue to issue threats

As Nigerian continue to grapple with the silence of the central bank and FG, state government officials are pressing them on one side with threats. For example.The Abia Government stated it will sanction any person, group or business entity that rejects the old 500 and 1,000 naira notes for business transactions.

The threat is contained in a statement issued by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Chris Ezem, and made available to newsmen in Umuahia on Saturday.

  • “Abia State Government advises Abia residents to feel free to carry out their financial transactions with the old naira notes alongside the new notes as stipulated.
  • Any individual, group or business entity that rejects the old notes will be contravening the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and stands the risk of facing sanctions,”

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello of Kogi also threatened to arrest and prosecute those rejecting the old Naira notes.

He said this in a statement issued by Bello’s Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr Kingsley Fanwo in Lokoja.

  • “This administration will not stand and watch some persons and businesses continue to reject the use of the old naira notes, even after the court judgement validating their use.
  • “To us, rejecting the old naira notes is a clear disobedience of the Supreme Court ruling, which shall be vehemently resisted.
  • “Anyone who rejects the old naira notes should be reported to the security and government authorities for immediate arrest and prosecution

The Bayelsa Government on Saturday also urged its residents to be calm amidst the challenges faced by Nigerians following the Naira redesign and cashless policy introduced by the CBN.

  • “The government, therefore, urges business operators in the state, particularly banks, traders and keke (tricycle) to take into consideration the Supreme Court ruling in order to reduce the pains of people of the state,”

The rejection of old Naira notes has also led to excess charges by some POS agents who demand additional fees from customers who use the old notes. This has further compounded the frustration and financial burden on Nigerians who collected the old notes from commercial banks.

CBN, FG yet to provide clarity

The CBN and the Federal Government are yet to comment on the matter, leaving Nigerians in limbo and uncertain about the legal status of the old notes.

The silence of the CBN and the Federal Government on the matter has further compounded the confusion and frustration among Nigerians.

This has fueled speculation and confusion among members of the public, with some traders and commercial bus drivers demanding an official statement before they can accept the old notes.

The situation has highlighted the need for the CBN and the Federal Government to provide clarity on the legal status of the old Naira notes and to address the challenges associated with the cashless policy. While electronic payments have many benefits, such as convenience and efficiency, they also have limitations, such as limited access to electronic payment systems in rural areas and the potential for security breaches.