Sunday, 19 February 2023

Naira Crisis: Banks Shun CBN Directive, Collect Old N1,000, N500


 

Some Deposit Money Banks on Saturday opened their branches to customers for the purpose of collecting old N500 and N1,000 notes for deposit into their accounts.

This was contrary to the claim by the Central Bank of Nigeria that it did not instruct the banks to continue to collect the old notes from depositors.

The CBN had on Friday ordered banks to start collecting the old N500 and N1,000 notes from members of the public and pegged the maximum amount they could collect from individuals at N500,000.

The CBN swiftly issued a counter statement signed by the Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, saying it did not give such a directive.


The banking regulator stated, “The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria has been drawn to some fake and unauthorised messages quoting the CBN as having authorised the Deposit Money Banks to collect the old N500 and N1,000 banknotes.

“For the avoidance of doubt, and in line with Mr President’s broadcast of February 16, 2023, the CBN has been directed to only reissue and re-circulate the old N200 banknotes and this is expected to circulate as legal tender for 60 days up to April 10, 2023.”

When one of our correspondents visited Access Bank in Oregun, Lagos, the branch was attending to customers who had succeeded in filling the required form from the CBN portal, and collecting the old N500 and N1,000 from them.


The CBN had opened a portal on its website and mandated all those willing to return their old notes to fill a form and generate a reference code.

An official at the Access Bank branch explained that, “We are only collecting deposits of the old notes from those who have filled the form and generated the code. If you don’t have a code, you cannot enter because you will not be attended to. We have been open since 10am and will close by 2pm.”

When asked how many times a customer could come and deposit, he said, “You are required to bring all the deposits at once and it must not be more than N500,000.

“If it is more than N500,000, you have to take it to the CBN and we can collect it only once from you because the deposit will be linked to your BVN.”

At Zenith Bank on Isaac John Street, Ikeja GRA, customers also came to deposit their old N500 and N1,000 notes before the bank closed by 2pm.

A security guard said, “If you don’t have a reference code, you cannot enter.”

He explained how to generate the reference code saying, “You have to go to the CBN website to register on the portal. Some people don’t know how to do it, but they have been going to cybercafés to generate the code. That is when you can deposit and it must not be more than N500,000.”


The GTBank at Olowoira in the Ojodu area of the state was also attending to depositors when one of our correspondents visited on Saturday.

A security guard, who refused to disclose his identity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “We have closed already, but some people are still inside the banking hall. We closed at 1pm and only those that had the code were allowed in.

“Some people came but because they did not have the code, we did not allow them in because it is mandatory. Those who had the code before 1pm were allowed in and some of them are still inside now, but we have closed for today to those that are just coming.”

Some depositors seen outside, however, expressed disappointment over the confusing information by the CBN over the collection of the higher denominations.

A man said , “I have N480,000 that I want to deposit but I heard yesterday (Friday) that the CBN said it did not direct the banks to collect the notes, so I stayed at home.

“Later when someone called me that he was able to deposit the old notes, I rushed to the bank but was told that they had closed for the day.

“This is unfair because the information did not circulate. People were just saying all sorts of things. It is not fair coming here now and I cannot even enter the bank.”


Another woman standing outside the bank, Florence Ogundeji, said, “I thought it was not true until I got to the bank. It was then that I had to go and look for how to generate the code and when I came back, they did not allow me in. I have been standing outside.”

At the Polaris Bank branch at Olowoira, the security guards said the collection of the old notes was fake news and the bank did not open to the public.

However, a young man who was standing in front of the bank and spoke on condition of anonymity said, “I heard that we can deposit our N500 and N1,000 notes and that is why I am here.

“I have N170,000 with me but they are telling me that they are not collecting it.”

On a visit to the UBA at Ojodu, an official of the bank said, “People have been coming to deposit their old notes, but we could not attend to them today because even if they have their code, our bank does not have the pin to verify the code.

“It is true that they can deposit the old N500 and N1,000 notes, maybe if our bank is able to get the pin by Monday, we will begin to collect the notes.”


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