The widespread rejection of the old N500 and N1,000 notes ended on March 14, as banks and People begun to accept the notes in accordance with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) mandate.
The Supreme Court’s decision that the old notes must continue to be legal tender alongside the newly designed notes through December 31, 2023 was followed by the CBN on Tuesday night.
Consequently, banks yesterday began to accept the old N500 and N1,000 notes from customers without requesting for the CBN cash return reference code.
Vanguard survey also showed increasing acceptance of the old notes among Nigerians, while rejection persisted in some segments especially among transporters.
Banks pay, accept old notes
Vanguard’s visits to banks around Igando and Ikotun areas of Lagos revealed that banks have started dispensing and receiving old notes without the CBN reference code.
A Fidelity Bank security guard disclosed that the bank paid N10,000 over the counter while Mrs. Uju Okorojie, a customer of the bank confirmed it saying: “I just withdrew N10,000 from the bank. The cashier told me I can deposit old notes without the CBN reference code.”
Similarly, a customer of Stanbic IBTC Bank confirmed she deposited old notes without the reference code saying: “I have been trying to deposit the N100,000 old notes with me for weeks now. When I heard the news I decided to visit the bank and was given a deposit slip to fill without a reference code from the CBN website.
In Abuja, some of the banks visited by Vanguard such as United Bank for Africa and Zenith paid customers the old notes while the long queues which have characterised banking premises and Automated Teller Machines in the last two months had disappeared.
At the Ceddi Plaza Branch of the UBA, for instance, customers were allowed to withdraw N20, 000 each, while Zenith, Ogbmosho Street, Area 8, Garki paid only N5, 000 per customer at the counter.
However, none of the branches of Fidelity, Access and Union banks visited by our correspondents paid money to customers.
It was also observed that none of the ATMs in the capital city dispensed cash as they were all empty.
A bank staff member who spoke in confidence said that the banks were yet to be given the old notes by the CBN, as at the time of filing this report at about 2.30 pm.
The staff said that the available notes were not yet enough to feed the ATMs and that the management of the banks decided that withdrawals would only be done at the counters until the apex bank released the old notes earlier returned to it by the banks.
It was learnt that the banks that paid customers were those that had the old notes in their vaults and decided to disburse them since the CBN has made the necessary pronouncement.
Traders accept old notes
A groundnut oil seller, Mrs Dupe Olayinka said: “In this Igando market, everybody is now accepting old notes. I thank the government for considering the masses as people and businesses have suffered from this crisis.
“Though people are still used to paying for their goods through transfers, I think with time they will embrace accepting the old notes.”
A wrist watch and wrist accessories seller at Iyanaba said: “The federal government has done well in accepting the ruling of the Supreme Court.
Also speaking, a trader identified as Iya Deborah, said that she has never rejected the old note even after the President broadcast.
“I have been collecting the old note and I will continue. I was very happy when the Supreme Court gave us the go ahead to collect the money.
“Some of my fellow traders have not been collecting the money but they collect transfers either direct or via Point of Sales, PoS”, she said.
But Mrs. Temitope Olaniran, a PoS agent said she has not visited the bank to withdraw the old notes for fear that customers might reject them.
“I have not visited the bank to withdraw the old notes. I had a bad and stressful experience depositing them and I don’t want to pass through such stress again.
“I have decided to wait and see the outcome of business transactions made today with the old notes to decide whether I will make transactions with it or not.”
Transporters reject old notes
However, some commercial drivers and motorcycle riders rejected the old notes from passengers, claiming they were not aware of the CBN directive.
Speaking to Vanguard, a commercial driver, Mr. Willington Nkemerulam, said he cannot accept the old notes because the President Muhammadu Buhari, has not given the go ahead.
Asked if he was aware of the CBN directive, he said he only heard passengers (Commuters) discussing it in his bus but he was not aware.
Nkemerulam said: “I had a heated argument with a woman very early this morning because she gave me an old N1000 note and I rejected the money. There was no insult I did not receive from her, but my concern is she must pay me. She actually paid with N200 new note.
“CBN might have said they should be collecting it but I have not heard, once everybody starts collecting the money including banks, I will collect. But you don’t expect me to be collecting money that even the bank would give me stress to deposit.”