We Will Not Accept Old Banknotes, Until We Hear From Buhari – Lagosians

President Muhammadu Buhari’s silence on the Friday’s Supreme Court decision, which nullified the ban on use of the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes as legal tenders, has put Lagosians on the edge. To play safe, they said that they would not accept the old banknotes, except N200, until the President speaks on the apex court decision.

In a unanimous decision by a seven-member panel of Justices, the court had ordered that the old banknotes shall continue to be used alongside the new notes till December 31, 2023.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had redesigned the N200, N500 and N1,000 denominations, and set January 31 as deadline for their legal tender status. But had to extend the deadline by 10 days (February 10) to allow for circulation of the new banknotes and mop up the old ones.


However, as a result of the challenges people are facing to access the new banknotes, governors of three All Progressives Congress -led states of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara, filed an an exparte motion at the Supreme Court to restrain the CBN and the Federal Government from implementing the February 10 deadline of the old banknotes as legal tender, which was granted.

Despite the Supreme Court interim order restraining the Federal Government and the CBN from implementing the February 10 deadline, Buhari on February 16, during a national broadcast, granted a 60 day extension for the circulation of the old N200 note, discarding old N500 and N1,000 banknotes.

Speaking with THE WHISTLER on Tuesday, a trader, Joseph Ude who sells used clothes at Ikeja-Under Bridge, told our correspondent that it was risky to begin to accept old banknotes for now.

“We’ve not heard anything from Buhari. I’ll not accept old banknotes until I hear from him. Whatever he says, that’s what I will follow,” Ude said.

“We don’t know what’s on his mind. He may decide not to obey the court ruling. After all, some of those justices were appointed by him. I’ll continue to wait to hear from the President.”

A petty trader who identified herself as Aminat told our correspondent that she has been finding it difficult to spend the old banknotes she has, adding that she has stopped accepting them.

She said: “I’ve not been able to spend the old banknotes that I’ve. I was at Oshodi yesterday to buy some goods; nobody wanted to accept the old banknotes I went to market with. Until I hear from the President or the CBN, I’ll not accept the old banknotes.”

Also, a bus driver, Segun, lamented that the old banknotes he collected last week, he has not been able to use them for any transaction. According to him, passengers, filling stations as well as Agberos are not accepting them.

“After the ruling of the Supreme Court last week, I accepted the old banknotes from people. But as I speak with you, it’s been difficult using them for any transaction. Passengers, filling stations and Agberos are not accepting them. So, I’ve stopped accepting the old notes. That’s why I want the the President to speak about the court order. If he says we should accept them, I’ll,” he told THE WHISTLER.

Notwithstanding the difficulty people face trying to do transaction with the old banknotes, a food seller, along Awolowo Way, Ikeja, said that she accepts the old banknotes.

“I accept the old banknotes. I accept them because when you go to banks that’s what they give you. So, if you have both old and new banknotes, you can come here to buy food,” she told THE WHISTLER.

Bank Issues Old Banknotes

Checks by our correspondent on Tuesday showed that while Naira scarcity has not abated, long queues at banking halls appear to be reducing in the state.

However, most of the Money Deposit Banks around Alausa and Oba Akran Avenue, were issuing their customers old banknotes.

Some of the cashiers who spoke to our correspondent at some of the banks visited said that they did not have new banknotes, but old ones.

According to them, a customer who makes a withdrawal, would be paid with the old banknotes of N500 and N1,000, adding that the withdrawal limit is N20,000.

A customer at one of the banks, Sarah, lamented how the current Naira scarcity has affected her. Sarah who said she needed cash to buy some personal needs, was skeptical about making a withdrawal, because according to her, she may not be able to do transaction with the cash.

“I need some cash to buy some personal stuff. I wanted to withdrawal N10,000 , but I just have to withdraw maybe N5,000 since I don’t even know if they’ll accept it out there,” she said.

Another customer who did not give her name, told our correspondent that she was at the bank because she has not been able to do any transaction with the old banknotes that were given to her at the branch last week.

She said: “I came here last week to make some withdrawals. I was given the old banknotes of N500 and N1,000. They’re not accepting them. I don’t know what to do.”

Publicly instruct CBN to implement Supreme Court decision

In a letter dated March 4, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had urged Buhari to disclose details of the measures his government is taking to obey the Supreme Court decision extending the validity of the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, and directing the CBN to continue to receive the notes from Nigerians.

SERAP also urged the President to publicly instruct the CBN to immediately implement the Supreme Court decision ordering an end to the cash withdrawal limits imposed by banks because such restrictions violate citizens’ right to freely use their property.

“There is an overriding public interest in disclosing the details of the measures your government and the CBN are taking to effectively and satisfactorily obey the Supreme Court decision,” SERAP had said.

According to the organisation “Disclosing the measures that your government and the CBN are taking to implement the Supreme Court decision would also enable Nigerians to monitor and scrutinize the level of compliance with the decision.”

SERAP said, “The public should not be kept in the dark on what your government and the CBN are doing to implement the decision. Widely publishing the implementation measures would also improve accountability of state officials and public confidence in the rule of law and Nigeria’s democracy.”

Buhari’s administration has penchant for disobeying court orders, and based on that tendency, it is unclear if the Federal Government will obey the Supreme Court decision.

In 2019, legal adviser to Amnesty International, Dr Kolawole Olaniyan, had said that Buhari had shown “stunning disregard for the rule of law and human rights, ignoring Nigerian judges on at least 40 occasions”. This is according to report by the Punch.