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Seventeen days to January 31 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for people to deposit old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes to banks, many people are still skeptical about accepting the new banknotes.
Following reported cases of traders rejecting the new naira notes, the CBN has therefore pleaded with market men and women across the country to accept the new notes.
Speaking yesterday to traders at Wuse Market in Abuja, CBN Abuja Branch Controller Michael Ogbu urged the traders to see all of nation’s currencies old and new as national symbols.
Ogbu, who was represented by Kareem Williams, assured the traders that the new Naira denominations were genuine and could not be easily counterfeited.
He specifically charged the traders to stop rejecting the new notes, stressing that “refusing to accept the Naira in a transaction is a crime” that could land them in trouble with the law.
Ogbu advised the market men and women, “to ensure that you deposit cash holdings in these denominations (N200, N500 and N1,000) at your commercial banks”.
He encouraged the public to explore other payment channels, such as eNaira, POS, electronic transfer, USSD, internet banking, and mobile money operators and agents, for payment settlement.
He reminded the traders not to be afraid to take their money to the banks stressing that “there is no limit to how much a customer can deposit between now and January 31, 2023, as the CBN has suspended bank charges”.
Hauwa Ndayabo of the Currency Operations Department of the CBN, showed the traders how to tilt the new notes towards the sunlight to see embedded features that change colours.
These features, she said, are invincible except when tilted at an angle to the sun.
While in Lagos, the apex bank also assured marketers and traders that it has made the redesigned naira notes available for them via Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
The Branch Controller, CBN, Lagos State, Koyor Baribokola, gave the assurance when the apex bank took its sensitisation tour on the new naira notes to Balogun Market, Lagos.
He said the apex bank initially had a challenge as people were not depositing the old notes, but the situation had changed.
“We are having much deposits now; this gives us the confidence to push more new notes into circulation and into the economy.
“We are making them available to you and you will have them if you haven’t had them before. Please have the assurance that you are going to have them.
“We pushed out a lot last week and today we are continuing with it, part of the meeting was what delayed my coming out here.
“We set a date for the deadline for the complete change over that is Jan. 31, and for now, that stands. We have not extended or changed the time.
“So, between now and the January 31, all the old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes you have in your possession, bring it to the bank and then take new ones,” Baribokola said.
He encouraged stakeholders to be the apex bank’s mouthpiece by spreading the message, and to protect and keep the new notes safe.
Also, the CBN disclosed that the Department of State Service (DSS) and other Intelligence Agencies are already watching to apprehend and prosecute those behind counterfeit or fake of the just redesigned naira notes.
Head, CBN Abeokuta branch, Ogun State, Alhaji Wahab Oseni, made this known while fielding questions from reporters shortly after the apex bank’s awareness and sensitization programme carried out for traders, market women, electronic payment system operators and other stakeholders at the popular Kuto Market, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
He said those that engaged in the act in the past were caught and prosecuted, warning that similar fate awaits criminal syndicate or any individual attempting to fake the newly redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 notes already in circulation.
Oseni urged Nigerians to focus more on how to identify the CBN money, explaining that if one places one’s thumb on the golden feature on any of the redesigned notes, it would not bleach away its colour whereas when you performed same test on the fake note, it will definitely bleach the colour out.
The CBN also sensitised residents of Kano state on the redesigned Naira notes and the eNaira policy.
The sensitisation exercise took place at Dawanau International Grains Market, Kano.
Speaking at the event, CBN Branch Controller, Umar Ibrahim Biyu, dismissed speculations that the apex bank has planned to introduce N2000 and N5000 notes.
Butu described the naira redesigned policy as necessary and called on the marketers to ensure they deposit the old currencies with them before January 31, 2023.
He said everyone is allowed to deposit any amount of money he or she has within the given period without charges.
Biyub explained that the redesigning of the currency was necessary as enshrined in Section 2(b) of the CBN Act, which states that currencies are due to be renewed every five years.
“But the last time the Naira was renewed was 18 years ago. This has given room for fake currencies (counterfeits), lesser money in the bank with over 80 percent in circulation in the public and reduced financial inclusion.
“The redesigning of it also serves as a major step in fighting corruption in the country,” he said.
He added: “Redesigning the larger denominations of the Naira will curb the circulation of fake currencies which affects the economy.
“Only 15 per cent of the currency is in the banks. Over 80 percent are out there in circulation or hoarded.
“This has reduced financial inclusion, even with the peoples oriented policies of the government,” the CBN controller said, dismissing speculations that the apex bank has planned to introduce N2000 and N5000 notes.
He also dismissed claims that the redesigned notes are substandard, explaining that the texture and quality are enhanced and well secured.
“The colour that is said to be coming off when rubbed with a slightly wet tissue is not abnormal; it is the reflection of a high quality ink called interblio used in minting it. Even a brand new Dollar note is like that.
“You should therefore return all the N200, N500 and N1000 denominations in your possessions. Those who have acounts should open the eNaira accounts to ease transactions and those who don’t have accounts should quickly go to commercial banks and open accounts.
Chairman of the Dawanau International Grains Market Association, Alhaji Baba Wawo, said the traders will embrace the federal government’s cashless transactions.
He however, complained that the local farmers from whom they purchase grains and other farm produce are not well enlightened about the cashless policy; “all they know is cash.”
“There is still poor mobile network in parts of the country that can hinder perfect implementation of the new policy,” he said.
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