Deposit Money Banks have begun to ration the disbursements of old N1,000 and N500 notes to their customers amid uncertainty over whether the Central Bank of Nigeria will release the old notes in its custody.
This came about 24 hours after the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced that old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes remained legal tender.
But despite the CBN’s statement on Monday night, the Nigeria Labour Congress on Tuesday insisted on the seven-day ultimatum it gave the Federal Government to end the cash crunch.
The apex bank’s position came on the heels of several weeks of confusion over the legal status of the old currencies amid a series of Supreme Court judgments in a suit between some state governments and the Federal Government.
The declaration by the CBN was expected to put an end to the scarcity of old and new naira notes that had inflicted pain on Nigerians but findings by The PUNCH on Tuesday revealed that the naira crisis might not be over soon.
Investigations by our correspondents revealed that banks were rationing old notes to their customers via over-the-counter payments with a few lenders loading their Automated Teller Machines.
But The PUNCH findings revealed that the majority of the lenders in Lagos, Abuja, Ogun, Kwara and other states were paying only N5,000 to each customer over the counters, while a few banks paid N10,000 only.
Further findings indicated that only a few banks loaded their ATMs and most of them were disbursing only N5,000.
Top bank executives revealed that most banks were paying what was left in their vaults, having sent a major chunk of old naira deposits to the CBN several weeks ago.
Other officials said lenders were also paying customers from little fresh deposits made by their customers.
Due to the naira scarcity, Wema Bank at Ilupeju, Lagos placed a limit on its ATM withdrawals from other banks’ cards and was dispensing only old naira notes.
When The PUNCH visited the branch, the bank’s customers were able to withdraw only N10,000 with Wema Bank’s cards, while other banks’ customers could withdraw only N4,000 only.
A businesswoman, Omolayo Shittu, who went to buy fabrics at Oshodi on Tuesday told our correspondent that traders had started accepting the old notes.
She said, “They are collecting the old notes and giving them out. A PoS lady, who was telling someone she had only old notes, nearly got slapped as the traders insisted that there was nothing like old money or new money.
“I have called my shop and told them to start collecting the old notes.”
On Tuesday, banks disburse old notes along the Alagbole-Akute axis, our correspondent visited three banks – First, Bank First City Monument Bank and UBA. While all three banks were disbursing the old naira notes over the counter to customers, only FCMB had loaded their Automated Teller Machines with cash.
Coined from the The Punch Newspapers