Deposit Money Banks in the country have begun partial compliance with the Supreme Court order approving the use of old N1,000 and N500 and N200 notes as legal tender for 10 months.
The Supreme Court had, last week ordered that the old naira notes should be allowed in circulation along with the new notes until December 31, 2023.
The court had said the Federal Government’s naira redesign policy contravened the 1999 Constitution.
On Monday, findings by The PUNCH revealed that commercial banks had begun partial compliance with the order even though the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation kept mum on the matter.
Visits by our correspondents to several bank branches in Lagos, Abuja and other major cities revealed that some banks had commenced compliance with the Supreme Court order.
The CBN and the AGF office had refused to comply with previous orders by the Supreme Court on the controversial naira redesign policy.
Among others, the Supreme Court had on February 8, 2023 nullified the February 10 deadline stipulated by the CBN for the phasing out of the old naira notes.
The CBN and the AGF office however failed to comply with the directive.
While the CBN and AGF office failed to take a decision on the latest order by the Supreme Court order, some commercial banks on Monday began to pay their customers the old notes.
Several Gtbank branches in Lagos and Abuja paid customers the old N1000 and N500 notes on Monday, according to findings by The PUNCH. Also, several branches of the United Bank for Africa paid customers the old N1000 and N500 notes.
However, other commercial banks refused to paid their customers, saying they were awaiting CBN directive on the matter.
Findings by The PUNCH showed that the CBN had yet to issue a directive to banks on the matter but some banks relied on the Supreme Court ruling to go ahead with paying their customers.
“No clear official directive from CBN yet but we have to go ahead because customers are suffering. Also, the Supreme Court has ruled on it,’’ a top official of a tier-1 bank told The PUNCH on condition of anonymity.
However, officials of FCMB, Polaris Bank, Access Bank among others said they were still waiting for the CBN directive on the matter.
Meanwhile, all efforts to get the CBN to comment on the Supreme Court ruling failed as the acting Director of Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Dr Isa Abdulmumin, declined to comment.
At the GTBank in Olowoira, Lagos, several customers were seen on queues collecting the old N500 notes from the bank’s cashiers.
However, The PUNCH observed that some bank customers rejected the old notes over fears that traders might not accept them as legal tender.
A customer, who simply identified himself as Benjamin said, “I came here very early and I was given number 208. I had to leave and come back and now I am still on the queue; I was expecting the queue would have stopped but it is still there, though not as long as it was before.
“The annoying thing now is that they are giving only the old N500 and N1,000 notes and I am not sure traders will accept the old notes from me.
However, several customers complained about scarcity of old notes in bank ATMs across several branches.
A customer, who came out of the GTBank branch in Ojodu Berger, said, “I was still here last week and the ATMs still dispensed new notes, even though I had to stay on a long queue to get to my turn. But now, you can see, all their ATMs are dry. None is dispensing money.”
At the Polaris Bank in Olowoira, many frustrated depositors stayed on queue and refused to leave even after the bank officials said the bank had closed for the day at 2pm.
“Speaking with our correspondent, the official said, “We don’t have the new and old notes to give anybody. We opened at 8am and closed at 2pm, and all we did was to attend to complaints, transfers and enquiries. All these people still standing outside are on their own because we are not attending to anybody today again.”
In Ojodu, our correspondent visited four banks which are located on Ogunnusi road.
At First Bank, there was a small crowd in front of the bank, waiting for the ATMs to be loaded with cash. The bank was shut, and when our correspondent inquired from one of the security guards, he said there was no cash to give out.
At Access Bank, our correspondent gathered that the bank had run out of cash.
The bank was however giving out tallies to customer it would attend to the following day.
A security guard told our correspondent that the bank paid some customers old naira notes in the morning but had run out of cash.
At Union Bank in the same area, there was no activity in the bank’s premises especially at the ATMs.
The story was the same at Ecobank, where the bank was shut. One security guard told our correspondent that the branch had been instructed by its head office to shut down operations by 1pm.
When asked why the bank did not pay out old notes following a Supreme Court order, our correspondent was told that the bank had yet to receive any directive from the CBN.
Meanwhile, a senior executive with Sterling Bank who would not want to be quoted, told our correspondent that some of its branches in the Ajah area of Lagos had received significant amounts of the old naira notes.
According to him, the bank’s customers who were apprehensive of the public perception surrounding the old notes refused to collect them.
He said, “Customers refused to collect the old notes. I was at three of our branches in Ajah today, and not a single customer agreed to collect the old notes.”
Banks visited in the Mazamaza area of Lagos were not dispensing cash. They only attended to customers who needed customer care service.
A customer who came out of the Union Bank branch in the area, Michelle Taju, said that the branch neither had network nor cash.
“They don’t have network and they don’t have cash; old or new. I have been told to come back.”
Also, a banker told our correspondent that they had yet to get any directive from its headquarters on the Supreme Court ruling.
“We are still waiting for directives on the Supreme Court ruling, nothing yet,” she said.
When our correspondent visited Access Bank, Zenith Bank and Wema Bank in the Federal Secretariat area of Abuja on Monday, it was observed that the banks had yet to commence paying customers with the old N500 and N1,000 notes after the Supreme Court order.
At the Access Bank in Federal Secretariat, when our correspondent asked the security man if the bank had commenced paying customers with the old currency, he said, “Not yet because there is no cash.”
At Zenith Bank, it was observed the lender was not paying cash because it had run out of old and new notes.
At the Wema Bank in the same area, the situation was the same.
It was further observed that none of the ATMs of these banks was dispensing cash.
Meanwhile, motorists continued to reject the old notes despite the court order.
A bus driver plying Mile 2-Oshodi route stopped at Second Rainbow bus stop and asked a passenger to get down after he gave his conductor old N1,000 note.
This provoked reactions from other passengers.
“You cannot blame the driver, until our Buhari speaks, we cannot be sure,” a passenger said.
A trader on Airport Road in Ibadan, who supplies food stuff and essential items to customers in Lagos, Jumoke Edwards, told our correspondent on Monday that she was not collecting the old notes.
She said, “This is because ever since the Supreme Court gave its ruling on Friday, we have not heard from the CBN in that regard. As for me, until the CBN corroborates the Supreme Court order, I will not collect old naira notes from anybody.”
The confusion in the economy had continued to mount despite calls from several quarters, urging the Federal Government to direct the CBN to comply with the court ruling.
This came as many continued to decry the negative effect of the naira crunch on their businesses and living standard.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project had urged Buhari to immediately obey the Supreme Court.
SERAP urged Buhari “to disclose the measures that your government is taking to direct the CBN to immediately re-circulate the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, as ordered by the Supreme Court.”
BREAKING NEWS: PDP’s Diri Wins Bayelsa Gov Election
The incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State and governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Douye Diri, has been declared the winner of the State governorship election held last Saturday.
The Returning Officer, Prof Faruq Kuta, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Of Technology, Minna, announced Diri winner of the poll at the collation centre of the election on Monday.
Diri polled 175,196 to defeat his closest rival, Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress, who garnered 110,108 votes while the Labour Party polled 905 votes.
Plateau: Protesters Storm S’ Court Over Sack Of Four PDP Members From NASS
Over 1000 protesters, on Monday, besieged the Supreme Court to register their displeasure over the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which sacked four members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Plateau State, from the National Assembly, based on a pre-election dispute.
The placard and banner-wielding groups, under the aegis of Coalition for Justice in Africa, CJA, submitted a protest letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.
According to the protesters, the appellate court, by its judgement, thwarted the wish of electorates in Plateau state, when it declared candidates that lost the National Assembly elections that held on February 25, as winners of the legislative seats.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the protest letter was submitted to the CJN, the National President of the CJA, Dr. Daniel Okwa, maintained that the judgement of the appellate court was capable of causing a breakdown of law and order in the state.
He said the group was at the apex court to seek the intervention of the CJN, alleging that the verdicts that removed all the PDP federal lawmakers were influenced by some chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The protest letter, which was obtained by Vanguard, read in part: “The Coalition for Truth and Justice believes that the judgment of the Appeal Court in Abuja is a case of injustice, else, how could one explain a situation where lawmakers of the All Progressive Congress (APC) would boast and predict the outcome of the Court of Appeal judgment even before the pronouncement.
“This is unacceptable and indicates that the justice regime in Nigeria has been thrown to the dogs. What happened in Plateau State is an aberration of immeasurable proportion. There is a distinction between a pre-election matter and a post-election matter.
“The Supreme Court has established this fact on several occasions. It is now a wonder why the Appeal Court would act otherwise and in a despicable manner that tends to truncate our nascent democracy.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice entirely condemns the actions of the justices of the Appeal Court that sat in Abuja. They displayed insensitivity to the electoral choices of the people. This is a worrisome trend that the Chief Justice of Nigeria must address.
“This is on the heels that the Judiciary, the world over, is regarded as the last hope of the commoner. This presupposes that it is the only place the commoner can get justice. The function of the Judiciary is not to twist the truth or fabricate facts but to interpret the law. The consequence of the interpretation of the law is justice.
“However, what played out in Plateau state negates the Judiciary’s position as the common’s last hope. The Judiciary is for sale to the highest bidder in Nigeria, if such positions could be taken without recourse to the implication of such on the psychological state of the people.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice is using this protest to drive the point that justice in Nigeria should not be reserved for a section of the country or any political party. What happened in Plateau should not be allowed to stand or repeat itself. The implication of such is that the reputation of the judicial arm of government would be eroded.”
It will be recalled that the appellate court had on November 7, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, okayed the nullification of the election of a Senator and three members of the House of Representatives in the state that emerged on the platform of the PDP.
The panel based its decision on failure of the PDP to fully comply with a court that was made in 2022, which it said directed the party to conduct congress in the 17 Local Government Areas in the state.
It, therefore, held that though the lawmakers won their respective seats during the National Assembly election that held on February 25, all the scores that were credited them, amounted to wasted votes.
It ordered that candidates that got the second majority lawful votes at the election, should be sworn in as winners of the legislative seats.
Canada’s Abuja, Lagos Visa Centres Open – High Commission
The Canadian High Commission in Nigeria has said its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open for the processing of immigration, refugee and citizenship applications.
The Canadian High Commission had on Tuesday announced the suspension of operations in its Abuja office following a fire incident at its generator house, which claimed two lives on Monday.
Nigerians had expressed fear that the operations suspension would hamper visa application processes.
But in a statement posted on its X handle on Thursday, the Canadian High Commission clarified that its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open and operational.
In the statement by its public affairs staff, Demilade Kosemani, the commission said, “As we continue to mourn the passing of our dear colleague from the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, please note the following information below:
“Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada clients: processing of applications continues. Regardless of the suspension of operations at the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, the Visa Application Centres in Abuja and Lagos remain open.”
Meanwhile, a travel agency, , TMT Travels and Tours Limited, has sympathised with the Canadian High Commission over the Monday tragic fire incident.
In a statement on Thursday the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Collins Onukwubiri, said, “We at TMT Travels and Tours Limited shares in the grief and sense of loss of the Canadian embassy in Abuja. The partial burning of the Canadian embassy in Abuja and the death of two workers there was most unfortunate.
“Canada, as a major player in the Nigeria’s travel and tours business, is an integral player in Nigeria’s economy. We know how devastating this unfortunate incident is to them but we want to say that we stand with them in this time and always. We specially condole with the families of the two persons who died in the process.”