Revealed: Why CBN Rescinded Earlier Directive Urging Banks To Accept Old Naira Notes


Latest information has revealed why the Central Bank of Nigeria rescinded its earlier directives to banks to accept old cash deposits from customers 

Investigation truly revealed that there were written directives by the CBN to commercial bank officials on Friday directing them to accept the cash 

Subsequently, some banks, including UBA, First Bank, GTB and Ecobank sent emails to their customers to inform them that they would now accept the old N500 and N1,000 notes and that they would open on Saturday and Sunday to receive the deposits.

In a memo to its customers, First Bank wrote, “Dear valued customer, this is to inform you that our branches shall receive old notes up to a maximum of N500,000 after registration on the CBN portal.

“Please note that deposits of more than N500,000 should be taken to the nearest CBN location.

“In addition, our branches will be open tomorrow, Saturday 18 February, 2023 to receive old notes. Thank you.”

Ecobank, which also communicated with its customers on Friday afternoon, added that its branches would be open on Saturday and Sunday.

The bank wrote, “We are still collecting your old N500 and N1,000 notes.

“Simply follow the steps below: Visit the CBN website and register through the dedicated portal.

“Take your cash after registering to any Ecobank branch close to you.

“Maximum deposit allowed is N500k per customer (based on your BVN).

“We are open on Saturdays and Sundays to serve you for your cash deposit needs only.”

UBA, on its part, advised its customers that it had not stopped collecting old N500 and N,1000 notes.

“Here’s how to deposit old notes: Log on to to register on the CBN portal.

“Visit any UBA branch with the following: The cash you wish to deposit.

“The reference number generated from the CBN portal. Your BVN.

“Please, note that the maximum deposit value is N500,000 per customer.

“Our branches continue to remain open for cash deposits on Saturdays alongside our 24/7 digital banking channels.”

Nevertheless, a statement signed by the apex bank’s Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, on Friday, denied the directive.

The statement read, “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. Members of the public should therefore disregard any message and/or information not formally released by the Central Bank of Nigeria on this subject.

“Media practitioners are advised to please verify any information from the correct sources before publication.”

When called to speak on the contradicting statements, Nwanisobi did not pick his call.

He also did not respond to messages sent to his telephone.

However, viral videos emerged on Friday as large crowds besieged the CBN office in Marina, Lagos State. The CBN workers could neither enter nor exit the building, while the security personnel were overwhelmed by the crowd.

Sources within the financial industry and government told our correspondents that the CBN gave its initial order for customers to proceed to commercial banks after its offices were besieged by Nigerians who wanted to deposit the old N1,000 and N500 notes. The bank had not envisaged that the crowd would be overwhelming.

The management later rescinded its initial order after it was accused by senior government officials of contradicting the President, Muhammad Buhari .The officials told the bank’s senior management that its order contradicted the one given by the President during his address on Saturday when he reiterated that all existing notes could only be exchanged at the “CBN and designated points.” However, the ‘designated points’ were not defined by the President.

Buhari had said, “In line with Section 20(3) of the CBN Act, 2007, all existing old N1,000 and N500 notes remain redeemable at the CBN and designated points.”

Findings, however, showed that the CBN did not attempt to countermand the President. The bank’s management had read ‘designated points’ to be commercial banks, hence the directive. Section 20 (3) of the CBN Act referred to by the President states, “Notwithstanding sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section, the Bank shall have power, if directed to do so by the President and after giving reasonable notice in that behalf, to call in any of its notes or coins on payment of the face value thereof and any note or coin with respect to which a notice has been given under this sub-section, shall, on the expiration of the notice, cease to be legal tender, but, subject to Section 22 of this Act, shall be redeemed by the Bank upon demand.”

A reliable source, who is privy to the tumultuous events of Friday, said that the CBN’s senior management had been careful not to misspeak on the matter because of the pending case at the Supreme Court. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the governor and his team were wary of making any pronouncement that could be deemed contemptuous by the apex court.

Depositors overwhelm CBN

In Lagos, hundreds of residents thronged the CBN office on Lagos Island, to deposit their old N500 and N1,000 notes.

One of our correspondents, who got to the area at 8.40am, met a huge crowd of people, who were shouting and asking officials of the apex bank to open the gate for them to go in and deposit their old notes.

A CBN official, who gave her name only as Ada, spoke to the crowd from the gated office and asked them to be calm and form queues.

She asked people with N500,000 and above who had filled the online form to be in one queue and those with lower amounts to go to their respective banks.

Ada said amid the noise, “We beg you to calm down. We cannot attend to everybody here. If you have filled the online form on our website and have above N500,000, please, form two queues.

“If you haven’t filled the form and if you have lower amounts, please go back to your banks. They will attend to you.”

The noisy crowd, however, protested, shouted her down and prevented her from finishing her speech.

Other officials came out after a moment and asked the crowd to go back to their respective banks, citing a new directive from the apex bank governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, but the crowd was insistent.

However, some depositors who did not have up to N500,000 combined their funds to be able to join the queue and have their cash redeemed.

Some others asked some Bureau De Change operators to help them redeem their old notes.

Right behind the CBN office is a branch of the First Bank, which was closed. Security guards in mufti were seen sitting inside the bank.

Hours after the directive for those with less than N500,000 to go to their respective banks, the crowd had grown and had become uncontrollable.

Many of the angry depositors banged on the CBN office gate and shouted that the security guards should come out and open the gate.

One of the depositors, Mr Suleiman Suleiman, who said he was a BDC operator, said he had over N2.5m with him in old notes and needed to deposit it before leaving the scene.

He said he had been at the CBN office since 5am and was initially given a number by one of those he met in the queue.

Suleiman stated, “When I came this early morning, I met over 100 people already at the bank. I was given the number 107. After a few hours, when the officials drove in and the crowd had grown, it became difficult to continue the numbering system. Everything descended into chaos.

“As you can see, everything here is in shambles. The country is shaking. No commercial bank opened, so how do we even deposit the money? Yesterday (Thursday), when I went to my bank to deposit some funds, they turned me back and asked me to come here (the CBN office). Now, see what I have met.”

Asked why he had to wait till the deadline before he went to deposit the notes, he said, “They said the matter is in court. It was until Buhari came out to speak yesterday (Thursday) that I knew I was in serious trouble.”

A trader, Mrs Salawa Shobummi, was crying when one of our correspondents approached her. She said she was a trader dealing in pepper at the Mile 12 Market, Ketu, and had “a lot of old notes” to deposit.

She lamented, “I have with me here over N270,000. Before this naira palaver, I used to go to my bank every week to deposit my profit and take the capital back to the market to buy some more goods.

“But since the morning I came here, everything is just scattered. Nobody is even answering us. I am not feeling too well; I cannot struggle the way others are struggling.”

Some policemen were seen begging the angry crowd to leave the CBN office and go back to their banks, while others guarded the bank premises, brandishing their AK-47 rifles.

The protesting crowd kept shouting, “No bank! Old notes! We are tired! CBN, collect our old notes!”

Some hoodlums joined the crowd and began to foment trouble. A lady said her bag containing money had been snatched. Another lady alleged that her phone had been stolen.

As of 1.30pm when one of our correspondents left the scene, the situation had not changed.

In Katsina State, scores of depositors stormed the Katsina branch of the CBN, but officials of the bank referred them to their individual banks and gave the depositors clearance letters to swap the old notes for new ones.

In Kogi and Ogun states, CBN officials turned back depositors with less than N500,000 and asked them to approach their banks instead.

Officials of the CBN in Katsina, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the apex bank was not collecting money from depositors.

According to the officials, the bank will only give a clearance note to the depositors, which they will in turn take to their individual banks where the money will either be deposited or changed.

The Kogi State branch of the CBN directed customers with less than N500,000 to their banks to swap them with new notes.

A visit to the banks office along Hassan Katsina Road, Zone 8 in Lokoja on Friday showed that those with less than N500,000 were being turned back and advised to visit their banks.

The branch Controller, Ahmed Sule, told Saturday PUNCH that the bank was only attending to those with N500,000 and above while those with less amount have been directed to visit their banks to swap their money.

He, however, said the amounts would be credited to the depositors’ accounts and no cash would be given either at the CBN or the commercial banks.

He urged customers to visit the apex bank’s website, download the form, fill it and submit it in the case of those with N500,000 and above, while others with less amount were advised to submit the completed forms and old notes to their respective banks and their accounts would be credited.

Majority of depositors, who besieged the Ilorin branch of the CBN on Friday expressed disappointment with the attitude of the central bank officials on the swap of the old notes.

They said they were disappointed that the CBN officials did not respond responsively to their requests.

Apart from the alleged lukewarm attitude of the CBN officials to attend to them, the depositors also complained of poor Internet network to generate the code for the apex bank to attend to their requests.

Alhaji Abdulmajeed Lasisi, who said he brought the proceeds from the sale of yam flour from Kaiama in the Kaiama Local Government Area in the northern part of the state, said he was at the CBN office in Ilorin since Thursday and he had not been able to get new naira notes in exchange for his old notes.

He said, “I came to the CBN in Ilorin from Kaiama on Thursday to exchange the old naira notes and up till this afternoon (Friday), the CBN officials have not answered us. Although someone helped me yesterday (Thursday) to generate the code, I have not been called in.

“I want to appeal to the officials of the bank not to make the process cumbersome so that we will not spend time waiting here for our hard earned money.”

Another depositor, Najeem Salam, who spoke on behalf of some members of the crowd, said what many people were experiencing at the gate of the CBN branch was the issue of poor network to generate the code.

He said that though a lot of people turned out at the CBN office to change their old notes, the process was taking too long because of the poor network and attitude of the bank’s workers.

When one of our correspondents visited the branch of the apex bank in Asaba, Delta State, it was observed that security had been beefed up in the area as depositors were orderly and given tally numbers before being allowed onto the premises.

Some CBN officials were seen controlling the crowd to avoid chaos.

In Bayelsa State, hundreds of bank customers on Friday crowded the Yenagoa branch office of the CBN.

One of our correspondents, who visited the apex bank along the Ox-Bow Lake Road, observed some customers with sacks of old notes, while a few others drove inside the office amid tight security provided by policemen and plainclothes men.

Others were also seen counting cash outside the gate and the reception area of the CBN even as some of the customers travelled from neighbouring Rivers and Delta states to swap the cash.

The CBN branch was attending to customers in batches, particularly those with printout slips containing their account details, which they had successfully generated from the apex bank’s website.

Efforts to speak with the Director, Governor’s Department, CBN, Mr Joseph Omayuku, proved abortive as he was said to be very busy when Saturday PUNCH requested to speak with him.

However, an official of the CBN, who addressed the customers at the gate, explained that only customers with N500,000 and above could swap at the apex bank, while those with lesser amounts should take the cash to their respective commercial banks.

The official, who declined to mention his name, said, “Below N500,000, go to your bank with your slip; your bank will attend to you. If you don’t have the printout, just calm down; there is a challenge now (on the website); in about an hour’s time, it will work again. Your banks will open on Saturday and Sunday.”

But some customers complained that the website was no longer accessible and their banks rejected the old naira notes when they approached them to deposit it, following an earlier advice of the CBN branch manager.

The CBN branch office in Minna, Niger State, was not crowded as of the time our correspondent visited.

The CBN office in Edo State was receiving the old naira notes on Friday. Depositors were at the Akpakpava branch office of the bank hoping to deposit their old note. They were assembled at the POST Office opposite the bank and were being ushered in threes with the security men ensuring that the exercise was without rancour.

Some of the depositors told Saturday PUNCH that they were happy that they could now deposit their old notes and expressed hope that their accounts would be credited soon.

When informed that the process of crediting customers’ accounts would take four weeks, Osaze Osifo, who said he deposited N200,000, noted that it was good to be able to save money but urged the apex bank to speed up the process of crediting the accounts of the depositors.

One of our correspondents, who monitored the development in Sokoto State, reported that most of the depositors, who were at the CBN branch office, were businessmen.

A depositor, Abubakar Isa, decried the attitude of the apex bank on the money swap arrangement as the application they depositors were directed to was not working.

In Osogbo, Osun State capital, many business centre operators on Friday engaged in brisk business near the CBN branch office in the city as they assisted many customers who had stormed the bank to deposit their old notes to fill the necessary form online.

Food vendors were also present in large numbers in the area to attend to the crowd.

As early as 8am, customers had stormed the bank to make enquiries on how they could deposit their old notes.

Many of the illiterate depositors were assisted by the business centre operators, who moved their gadgets to the area.

A computer centre operator, Khalid Alaparo, said he got the hint about a business opportunity at the CBN office through an official of the bank.

“I got the hint of the business opportunity waiting for us here through an official of the CBN. Depositors that are not literate are the ones coming to us to help them fill some forms that would enable them to deposit their old notes. We charge them moderately for the services,” he explained.

Security operatives deployed in the area in large numbers prevented journalists  from taking pictures, while many of the depositors also refused to allow their pictures to be taken so as not to expose them to danger.

Many of the depositors, who besieged the Abeokuta, Ogun State branch of the CBN, expressed frustration that they were not attended to by the officials of the bank.

It was gathered that only those who had been able to generate codes were allowed into the bank.

A depositor, who identified herself simply as Yetunde, said the generation of code to make the payment was not going through, adding that those without the code were not allowed to enter into the premises



Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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