The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday said it intends to extend the legal tender status of the old N200, N500, and N1, 000 denominations beyond the December 31, 2023 deadline – and with no definite time frame for their retirement.
In a statement, the CBN Director, Corporate Communications Department, Dr. Isa AbdulMumin, said the decision was in line with global best practices and to, “forestall a repeat of earlier experiences.”
He said, “Thus, all banknotes issued by the CBN in accordance with Section 20(5) of the CBN Act 2007, will continue to remain legal tender, ad infinitum, even beyond the initial December 31, 2023 deadline.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria is working with the relevant authorities to vacate the subsisting court ruling on the same subject.”
The apex bank had introduced the redesign of N200, N500, and N1,000 denominations in October 2022 and various deadlines were set for the old design of the banknotes to be retired.
However, the economic hardship that resulted from the implementation of the currency redesign programme compelled some state governors to sue the central bank.
The apex bank, however, stated that all “CBN branches across the country will continue to issue and accept all denominations of Nigerian banknotes, old and redesigned, to and from deposit money banks (DMBS)”.
“The general public is enjoined to continue to accept all Naira banknotes (old or redesigned) for day-to-day transactions and handle these banknotes with utmost care, to safeguard and protect the lifecycle of the banknotes.
“Also, the general public is encouraged to embrace alternative modes of payment, e-channels, for day-to-day transactions,” the statement added.
Following the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023, the apex bank had ordered banks to comply with the ruling of the Supreme Court ordering the old naira notes to remain legal tender and operate simultaneously with the redesigned naira notes till December 31, 2023.
The bank stated that it met with the Bankers’ Committee and directed that the old N200, 500, and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banking notes till December 2023, and consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly.
The clarification by the central bank became necessary in view of the divergent social media misinterpretations and speculations of the validity of the affected naira denominations as the deadline nears.
James Emejo in Abuja