Banks limit cash, fuel stations reject old notes, and others

 On Tuesday, motorists, fuel stations, retailers, traders, and other types of bank customers rejected the recent move by some Deposit Money Banks to recirculate old N500 and N1,000 notes.

The advancement came around 48 hours after a few business banks, especially Surety Trust Bank Plc, Pinnacle Bank Plc, and Real Bank, started the payment of the disputable N500 and N1,000 notes across their branches in significant Nigerian urban communities.

Following the Supreme Court's order last week approving the use of old N1,000, N500, and N200 notes as legal tender for ten months, commercial banks decided to re-circulate the notes.

Last Friday, the Supreme Court issued an order allowing the old and new naira notes to be used together until December 31, 2023.

The Federal Government's naira redesign policy, according to the court, violated the 1999 Constitution.

However, The PUNCH's findings from Tuesday revealed that key bank customer groups had begun to reject the old N500 and N1,000 notes that were being recirculated.

The greater part of them pivoted their contentions on the reality the CBN, the financial area controller, still couldn't seem to endorse the utilization of the old notes as lawful and delicate, except for the old N200 note.

On Tuesday, oil marketers claimed that Deposit Money Banks had not yet instructed them to accept the old N500 and N1,000 bills from customers in Abuja, Nasarawa, and Niger states.

Despite the Supreme Court's and the Central Bank of Nigeria's orders, some filling stations, particularly those run by independent oil marketers, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited refused to accept the old naira notes on Tuesday.

Attendants at the filling station of the NNPC Limited in Nyanya, a significant border town between Abuja and Nasarawa State, stated that they had not yet received instructions from their superiors regarding the acceptance of the previous notes.

In a similar vein, the attendants at the Khalif filling station in Kubwa, Abuja, which is run by an independent marketer, stated that they would not accept the old naira bills. Instead, they asked customers to pay with a Point of Sale Service machine or through bank transfers.

In addition to filling stations, the majority of merchants in the capital city and neighboring states had not yet begun to accept the old notes.

"We are awaiting the directive from the president. The President hasn't said anything. However, "of course, we will accept the notes if the banks say we should collect the old notes," Mohammed Shuaibu, Secretary of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria in Abuja-Suleja, stated.

"But as it stands now, we have not received any official confirmation," he continued. We only have personal accounts of it. I can assure you that we will easily comply once the banks tell our members to accept it.

“I haven't looked at the old N500 and N1,000 notes until this very moment that I'm speaking to you, but we are hearing that the banks have started giving out the old notes. It is only what we hear.

Although Shuaibu acknowledged that marketers were aware of the Supreme Court's order, he insisted that the president had instructed the CBN to return the old bills to the banks.

"Indeed, on the off chance that they have concurred that the cash ought to be utilized, as advertisers we believe that the economy should continue without a hitch and we are prepared to participate. However, I don't believe the banks have instructed their customers to bring the old notes at this time.

The IPMAN official stated, "I’ve not heard about such, and at the same time I’ve not seen it, because I don't know where they are going to manufacture the money, for we were told that the presidential directive was that they should destroy the old notes." "I’ve not heard about such, and at the same time I’ve not seen it."

Despite the Supreme Court's order, commercial buses and petrol stations in Lagos and Ogun states refused to accept the old naira notes as payment.

According to the findings, several gas stations in Ogun and Lagos only accepted the new N200 notes, old N500 notes, and Point of Sale payments and transfers from customers.

The PUNCH saw several fights between salespeople and motorists at gas stations over the old N500 and N1000 notes. Station employees who refused to give out gasoline to customers who had the old notes left those customers stranded.

The majority of commercial bus drivers refused to accept the N500 and N1000 notes because filling stations had not yet begun accepting them when purchasing gasoline for their businesses, leaving passengers hanging at major bus stops in both states.

The previous N500 and N1000 notes were rejected by a commercial bus traveling the Berger-Mowe axis.

Additionally, several traders had not yet accepted the previous N500 and N1000 notes.

Checks by our journalists around the Alagbole-Akute hub of Ogun State uncovered that drivers, merchants, and grocery stores would not acknowledge the old naira notes because of the disarray encompassing the situation with the old cash as a substantial method for trade.

Our correspondent was informed by a trader who went by the name Bukola Vivian that the old naira notes were rejected because Nigerians were more likely to follow the CBN's orders than the rulings of the courts.

She stated, "Ever since this naira thing started, people have listened to what the CBN says, and the CBN has not said that the old notes should be accepted now." I can't give old notes as change if I collect them now because others will reject them.

Ojodu Abiodun, a Sales Manager at JustRite Superstores, disclosed to The PUNCH that the retail giant was also refusing to accept the previous notes in an interview.

"The truth is that not many people have even brought the old notes," the source stated. Here, a lot of customers are paying with their credit cards. Since we do not yet know what has become of the old notes, it would not be prudent to begin accepting them from customers.

The commuters' old notes were not being accepted by the axis transport operators, who insisted that payments should be made in new notes or through transfers.

Additionally, market women in the community of Magboro in Ogun State rejected the new notes.

Iya Sola, a trader, stated, "I can't collect the old notes because Buhari hasn't said anything." The last time they (the Supreme Court) said we should collect it, we did. Buhari's instructions were followed, and I can't continue at a loss.

Ireti Shobowale, another market worker, stated that she was still awaiting the president's directive before deciding whether or not to comply with it.

In addition, despite the Supreme Court's order, motorists and merchants in the Federal Capital Territory rejected customers' old N500 and N1,000 notes.

Ndubuisi Egbo, an Abuja taxi driver, stated that the two individuals who boarded his vehicle refused to accept the old notes because he was uncertain whether anyone would accept them.

Similarly, a corn seller would not accept the old notes unless the CBN issued a directive in this regard, and she simply gave her name as Rose stated.

CBN is slammed by SMEs at the same time that Dr. Adams Adebayo, the Chairman of the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, lamented the situation.

He stated, "It's disheartening that traders and the general public are still rejecting the old N500 and N1000, despite the pronouncements of the Supreme Court on Friday, March 3, 2023." The old notes are being rejected by many businesses, particularly gas stations.

"Now, banks are issuing old notes, but the public is rejecting them because the apex bank didn't say anything. With the apex bank's attitude of "sit down and look," it appears that the banking system has orchestrated the complete economic collapse.

Banks proportion cash

In the interim, banks on Tuesday kept on paying the old N500 and N1000 notes across their counters.

The PUNCH discovered that GTB on Zaitech Road in Oregun sold used N500 to customers over the counter.

Also, along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, a Zenith Bank branch in Ogun State's RCCG Camp only gave out N5,000 to customers in old N500 notes.

Dr. Uju Ogubunka, President of the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, responded by stating that traders and transporters should not reject the previous naira notes for any reason.

There is nothing to worry about for them. On the off chance that they are not persuaded that they shouldn't acknowledge them, they can hand it over to any among us needing it. In any case, they ought to accept it because the highest court in the nation has made a decision. They would not have made any decisions if there was no case before the Supreme Court. However, there was a problem that impacted all of us, and they took a stand. That decision is in my opinion a resounding yes.

“It's a good thing that some banks are starting to give it to people; if they are giving it to people, that means they will accept it when you send it back to them. Therefore, if you take it to the market and some people refuse to accept it, you can return it to the bank without incurring any losses.

However, according to The PUNCH, several banks had not yet begun to distribute the old N500 and N100 notes.

This came as the shortage of the new notes went on the nation over, with weighty lines in bank offices in Lagos, Abuja, Ogun, and different pieces of the country.

In addition, The PUNCH discovered that numerous bank locations remained closed on Tuesday due to cash shortages.

Additionally, when our correspondents went to the banks in Mazamaza and Oshodi on Tuesday, they saw a line of customers waiting outside the doors.

Cash was not being given out at the Old Ojo Road branches of Fidelity Bank and Zenith Bank; only customers who had problems with their transfers were given numbers and allowed into the banking hall.

Tanimola Sunday, a customer of Fidelity Bank, stated that she went to the bank's Old Ojo Road branch at 6:49 in the morning and was given the number 70.

She stated, "I arrived at 6:49 a.m. and met some people who were already waiting." I was given the number 70 when I asked for a number. I was surprised. My justification for leaving early had failed. My only complaint concerns a transfer issue.

PoS operators are furious Victor Olojo, the National President of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, criticized the CBN decision.

Olojo said, "AMMBAN is profoundly upset by the issues encompassing the low acknowledgment of the old naira notes regardless of the decision of the high court.

The CBN's mute posture is largely responsible for this. The country's financial institutions have yet to receive a clear directive from the CBN. Keep in mind that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is largely in charge of the financial sector and currency issues.

According to the CBN, "so the CBN must show respect for the Supreme Court ruling by issuing a directive to all FIs to accept and issue old notes" and "assure Nigerians that the old notes are well accepted as legal tender until the time specified by the Supreme Court."

Our correspondents observed crowds on several bank premises along Lagos' Ojodu axis. On the axis, there were long lines at the Access Bank Plc, First Bank Plc, and Union Bank Plc branches.

Dr. Musa Muhammad Maitakobi, President of the Road Transport Association of Nigeria, declined to discuss the reasons motorists were rejecting the previous notes.

In the meantime, some Nigerians accused Point of Sale operators of extorting customers from their banks. They asserted that PoS agents were charging N1,500 for N5,000 worth of new notes.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) needed to pursue fraudulent PoS agents who were extorting money from Nigerians, according to a customer named Mr. Kunle Solola.

Kemi Adebola, another bank customer, insisted that the Federal Government could not afford to continue allowing PoS agents to extort Nigerians, claiming that she had paid PoS operators over N50,000 in charges in the past two weeks.

With the new notes, PoS agents and bank officials are engaging in racketeering. They offer helpless customers brand-new notes at exorbitant prices. He said, "This can't continue."

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