Banks run out of new naira, demand soars

 On December 15, 2022, more than three weeks after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the newly redesigned N1,000, N500, and N200 bills finally became legal tender. at the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council, unveiled them.

On October 26, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele made the announcement that the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes would be redesigned and would cease to be legal tender by January 31, 2022.

Emefiele emphasized that in order to address inflationary issues, currency counterfeiting, insecurity, and other issues affecting Nigeria, the redesign of the local currency became necessary.

He added that the redesign of the currency was intended to control currency in circulation and the payment of ransoms to kidnappers and terrorists.

Our correspondents visited banking halls on Thursday in several cities across the nation, particularly Lagos and Abuja, and discovered that as early as 12 o'clock in the morning, a number of bank branches had run out of the small quantities of the new notes that had been given to them by their head offices.

Further research revealed that a number of bank branches had not yet received their new note allocations, and numerous bank employees informed our correspondents that the new notes were still anticipated.

When our correspondents visited the locations in Lagos, a number of the bank branches had run out of their new note allocations. However, The PUNCH was informed by officials at some of the centers that still had the new notes that their allocations were extremely limited.

“Each cashier was given N100,000 of the new N1,000 bill for onward disbursements to customers seeking over-the-counter payments,” stated a representative of Access Bank Plc at the Ojodu branch in Lagos, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter. The additional denominations of N500 and N200 are not yet available. We do not currently have an adequate supply of the new notes.

Additionally, our correspondent noticed that the bank's ATMs only accepted old naira notes.

While cashiers were paying out more of the old naira notes at the center, customers were also seen depositing the old bills over the counter.

However, in a few instances, the cashiers were seen combining some brand-new naira bills with older bills when making their over-the-counter (OTC) payments.

Meanwhile, it was reported that some local merchants were refusing to accept the new notes as legal tender in some of the banking halls our correspondents visited.

As a result, some customers of the bank refused to collect the new notes for over-the-counter transactions.

A bank teller in Ogba, Lagos, confirmed the situation by telling one of our correspondents, "Some customers have been rejecting the new naira notes whenever we give them; they said the new notes wouldn't be gathered from them on the lookout; They like the old notes better.

A bank cashier informed a demanding customer that she had used up her supply of new notes.

The cashier, on the other hand, approached his coworker to request some when the customer insisted on making his payment in the new notes.

The cashier stated, "You are eager to get the new notes, but many of the customers I served today refused to take it from me."

In the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, only one of the 10 bank branches visited paid their customers using the new notes. Also, only one of the ATM centre dispensed the new naira notes among the several ATM galleries visited by one of our reporters in the FCT.

The PUNCH visited the Guaranty Trust Bank, First Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Taj Bank and Access Bank Plc situated at Jabi Garage and the Central Business District.

None of the tellers in the bank branches was seen paying their customers in the new notes via the counters.

However, only the Access Bank ATM in the area was seen dispensing new N1,000 and N500 notes.

Our correspondent observed that the ATM dispensed N1,000 in every N10,000 withdrawal.

At GTBank, Jabi branch, our correspondent observed that the ATM dispensed old N1,000 notes to customers.

At the counter of the same bank, a bank official who declined to give her name told The PUNCH that the new notes were not available.

She said, “No, you can’t make cash withdrawals of the new notes. The best we can do for you is to mix the amount you are withdrawing with old notes.”

When our correspondent approached another official of the bank, she said OTC withdrawals were still being honoured in the old notes.

At the Zenith Bank, Jabi branch, an official asked our correspondent to come back on Friday or Monday for the new notes.

According to him, the new notes have yet to be distributed to the branch, adding they are hopeful it will get to the branch soon.

Our correspondent overheard a customer complaining of not being able to get the new notes despite withdrawing a huge sum of money at the branch.

A similar scenario was witnessed at the First Bank and Taj Bank branches as officials said the new notes were not available when our correspondent visited the centres.

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