As Naira Black Market Booms: CBN’s Silence Throws Nigerians Into Confusion

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s silence on its position in the Naira swap policy has thrown the country into confusion, as businesses and other users of the currency are at a loss on whether the old Naira notes are still  in use or not.

As a result, LEADERSHIP’s checks reveal many transporters, traders, supermarkets, filling stations and others are now rejecting the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes.

Even some banks have expressed confusion whether to continue paying out the old currency notes or to restrict payment to the redesigned notes.

This is as President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday again met with the governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, at the State House, Abuja,

The nation’s apex bank governor, who was meeting with the President privately for the third time since the cash crisis escalated across the country, however, declined to speak to newsmen after the meeting.

Emefiele had twice last week held private meetings with the president at his office in the State House ahead of his briefing the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the National Council of State (NCS) about the currency swap last Wednesday and Friday respectively.



Although the reason for the visit was not known, at the time of filing this report, it was, however, learnt that it might not be unconnected with the current cash crisis associated with the currency swap introduced in October, 2022 by the CBN

LEADERSHIP recalls that the CBN’s deadline of February 10, 2023 had elapsed last Friday. However, the Supreme Court had ruled suspending the deadline for the currency swap.

CBN has not released any official statement to banks or to the public as to the next policy direction

While commercial activities, which were nearly grounded last week, resumed in the new week, there were mixed reactions by Nigerians on the acceptance of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes as some businesses and banks rejected the old notes while some paid the old notes over the counter.

Last week, the Supreme Court  had, in a ruling last Wednesday, suspended the CBN deadline for demonetisation policy and fixed February 15 for hearing on the matter.

Consequently, the attorney general of the federation (AGF) and minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said while the federal government would obey the Supreme Court ruling, it would take necessary steps to set aside the interim order.

On Friday, the Council of State, comprising former presidents and heads of state,  leadership of the National Assembly and Judiciary,President Buhari and some service chiefs and key ministers and governors, had advised the CBN ake available enough new notes or put the old notes into circulation.

LEADERSHIP’s findings showed that while some banks had begun rejecting the old notes in some parts of Lagos and Ogun states, others had resumed dispensing the old notes to their customers over the counter.

A bank staff said they had been instructed to commence disbursing the old notes.

“I know one of our branches that has already started dispensing the old notes but we do not have any and we are yet to get deposits that we can disburse”, she said.

Mrs Akande, a teacher, said she had received old notes at the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) of a bank in Iyana-Ipaja area of Lagos.

However, some businesses had begun rejecting to the old notes, although a majority of small businesses and transporters have continued to transact with the old notes.

Alhaja Hassan, a retiree who sells groceries, stopped collecting old notes.

According to her, she had sent her girl to get drugs for her at the pharmacy but they had rejected the old notes, thus her decision to refuse the old notes.

The scarcity of the new notes had led to most Nigerians, particularly, small informal businesses, transporters and those in the rural areas to transacting with the old notes.

As the CBN had mopped up over N2 trillion of the old notes from circulation, the old notes had also become scarce leading to some individuals selling and hoarding cash.

As of yesterday morning, banking agents, popularly known as POS agents, were collecting N800 to give N5,000 in old notes and N1,000 to give N5,000 new notes. A man in Abuja who does not want to be named said he bought N80,000 of the new Naira notes for N95,000. (

Meanwhile, some banks which had locked their doors to customers last week in the wake of violence against their staffers have begun opening up for businesses.

Chief executive of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr Muda Yusuf noted that the small businesses and the ordinary citizefns were the biggest victims of the unspeakable disruption and hardship inflicted by the impractical deadline given by the CBN on cash swap as they are the biggest users of cash.

He urged the CBN to “immediately allow the old and new currency notes to co-circulate until such a time when the old notes are gradually and completely withdrawn.  This is global best practice. This should within a space of three to six months.

“Meanwhile, all the cash that has been mopped up should be released to their owners, unless there are reasons to suspect such lodgments and this should be escalated to the antigraft agencies.  Citizens that have lodged their cash for purposes of the cash swap should be allowed unfettered access to their money.”

Fidelity Bank, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) New Port branch and First Bank branches in Warri, Delta State, gave condition on how they can collect the old naira notes of N1000, N500 and N200 from customers.

Also, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) filling station along Okpanam Road, Asaba, Delta state had since the weekend rejected the old naira notes

The Branch Manager of Fidelity Bank (name withheld) yesterday addressed customers, including Point-of-Sale (PoS) operators, telling them that if they deposit the old naira notes in the bank, the bank will stamp the old notes and pay the money into their individual’s account, with a proviso that the affected customer(s) won’t be able to use the old money in their account, until further notice.

This was despite the interim order by the Supreme Court last week and the advice by the National Council of State, that the CBN should print more of the new naira notes or recirculate the old notes.

The apex court also compelled CBN to extend the deadline to reduce the sufferings of Nigerians in getting the new naira notes.

Interestingly, by yesterday, the apex bank had yet to issue any statement directing the Deposit Money Banks  to comply with the Supreme Court ruling and the advice by the National Council of State.

Rather than issue a refutal weekend, the CBN denied a story which gave credence to the National Council of State’s directive to the apex bank to print more new naira notes or recirculate the old naira notes.

At the NNPC filling station, all efforts to convince the petrol station manager that naira notes were still legal tender fell on deaf ears.

Petrol products buyers argued with the manager but the man refused to shift ground, insisting that the deadline on expiration of the old naira notes stands.

The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) also threatened to sanction fuel stations that reject the use of Point of Sale (POS) machines or bank transfers at their outlets.

Mr Kimchi Apollo, general manager, Corporate Communications and Stakeholders Management, NMDPRA, frowned at the act by the retail outlets due to the recent cash crunch brought about by the new naira design.

“It has come to the attention of the NMDPRA that some retail outlets are not accepting the use of POS machines at their fuelling stations due to the recent cash crunch brought about by the new Naira design” he said.


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