Ten days after the Supreme Court ruled that old ₦200, ₦500, and ₦1,000 banknotes were to remain legal tender, the Central Bank of Nigeria has responded in an official statement.
A portion of the statement dated March 13, 2023, and signed by Isa AbdulMumin, the CBN’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications, reads thus:
“In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law Principle that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court judgement of March 3, 2023.”
Although the Supreme Court issued a ruling on Friday, March 3, 2023, the CBN did not issue an official statement subsequently. The result was that many Nigerian businesses were unwilling to accept the old banknotes, citing the CBN’s silence. Although AbdulMumin had encouraged Nigerians to use the old banknotes, that was not going to fly, and even statements by Governors Chukwuma Soludo and Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Anambra and Lagos states, respectively, did little to encourage Nigerians to use the old banknotes.
The CBN’s statement finally puts to rest the uncertainty that has trailed its naira redesign policy, and should gradually reduce the queues at banking halls and ATMs that Nigerians have become so accustomed to. In addition, it calls into question the CBN’s decision to wait this long before issuing an official statement.