By Wisdom Deji-Folutile
There is confusion as Nigerians remain divided concerning the use of old notes as legal tender despite the Supreme Court ruling overturning the Naira Redesign policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
FTN reports that the Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must extend the use of old banknotes until December 31 due to the negative impact of the policy.
A seven-member panel of the court, led by Justice Inyang Okoro, unanimously ordered the CBN to continue receiving the old notes from Nigerian citizens. The court held that the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the CBN concerning the redesign and withdrawal of old notes was unconstitutional.
According to the ruling, the directive was issued without consultation with the states, the Federal Executive Council and the National Council of State and other stakeholders. The apex court had also observed that no reasonable notice was given before the implementation of the policy as provided under the CBN Act, therefore, the directive was unconstitutional.
However, the CBN has remained silent since the ruling, failing to issue a circular to commercial banks instructing compliance with the supreme court ruling.
But despite the fact that the CBN has kept mum on the Supreme Court ruling, several banks across the federation are already paying out old notes to customers.
According to multiple reports, several financial institutions have instructed their banks to pay back the old Naira notes in their vaults to customers.
However, CBN spokesman Isa Abdulmumin on Wednesday told reporters that although the CBN had not issued a formal statement addressing the issue, both old and new notes “are legal tender”.
“Banks are paying old notes as well as new notes. They are all legal tender.
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“Yes, the CBN has not issued an official statement on the issue. Anyone banks give to you, you can collect. We just want to make life easy for Nigerians,” he told The Cable.
Meanwhile, commercial bus drivers, market traders and eateries are refusing to collect old banknotes from customers.
When our correspondent reached out to Nigerians, Mrs Toyin, a regular commuter, told FTN that she had been unable to spend the phased-out notes on the bus she used to get to work on Wednesday morning.
“The driver even announced that he was not collecting old notes. That anybody using old notes should come down from the bus,” she said.
Tunde Aremu, a sales attendant at a supermarket in Isheri, Lagos, told FTN that management was yet to instruct them to accept old Naira notes despite the Supreme Court ruling.
A finance manager also mentioned that although she knew there were banks paying the notes, she has been unable to spend the old cash notes.
One Nigerian on Twitter said that the old notes are being accepted in his environs, but only provided customers spend all their cash notes in the same store.
“They are accepting but you won’t collect change in my side,” he said.
A financial expert, Gbolade Idakolo, said President Muhammadu Buhari should immediately direct the CBN governor to revert to the status quo ante. “The naira redesign policy has shrunk the economy by over a trillion in business losses. Many SMEs have closed shops due to their direct dealings with cash.
“The policy increased hardship for the already stressed population, and the Supreme Court judgement is a great relief,” he said.
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