Central Bank of Confusion: CBN’s Conflicting Orders On N1000, N500 Notes Cause Maximum Confusion In Nigeria

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Friday threw depositors into confusion as it gave conflicting orders on the deposit of old N1,000 and N500 notes.

The conflicting orders emanated from media reports based on anonymous briefings by senior officials of the bank, a memo that the bank reportedly gave to commercial banks, and an official statement issued by the bank, all within six hours.

The resulting confusion lasted till Friday evening even as depositors thronged and overwhelmed CBN offices across the country trying to deposit N500 and N1,000 notes to no avail.

Early Friday morning, a senior official of the apex bank had given an anonymous briefing to one of Punch’s correspondents that Deposit Money Banks had been directed to receive the old N500 and N1,000 notes from depositors. The Punch later relied on this official’s remarks to publish a story to that effect.

The official had told one of Punch’s correspondents, “Go to your bank but fill the form before you go. Go with the reference code you generate. With your code, banks will collect the old from you. But if the amount is more than N500,000, you will have to go to the CBN and deposit it.”

Earlier, the CBN opened a portal on its website and made it mandatory for those willing to return old notes to fill a form and generate a code.

A few hours after its official spoke to Punch, the CBN issued a statement refuting the official’s remarks, while also seeking to blame the media for the fiasco.

However, the CBN’s rebuttal contradicted the facts on the ground. Besides the irrefutable proof in Punch’s possession that the CBN official spoke to Punch reporter, the apex bank also gave written directives to banks to start receiving the old notes from customers and to open on Saturday and Sunday for that purpose.

The written directives were made available to Punch correspondents by commercial bank officials on Friday.

Subsequently, some banks, including UBA, First Bank, GTB and Ecobank sent emails to their customers to inform them that they would now accept the old N500 and N1,000 notes and that they would open on Saturday and Sunday to receive the deposits.

In a memo to its customers, First Bank wrote, “Dear valued customer, this is to inform you that our branches shall receive old notes up to a maximum of N500,000 after registration on the CBN portal.

“Please note that deposits of more than N500,000 should be taken to the nearest CBN location.

“In addition, our branches will be open tomorrow, Saturday 18 February, 2023 to receive old notes. Thank you.”

Ecobank, which also communicated with its customers on Friday afternoon, added that its branches would be open on Saturday and Sunday.

Nevertheless, a statement signed by the apex bank’s Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, on Friday, denied the directive.

The statement read, “The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria has been drawn to some fake and unauthorised messages quoting the CBN as having authorised the Deposit Money Banks to collect the old N500 and N1,000 banknotes. For the avoidance of doubt and in line with Mr President’s broadcast of February 16, 2023, the CBN has been directed to only reissue and re-circulate the old N200 banknotes and this is expected to circulate as legal tender for 60 days up to April 10, 2023. Members of the public should therefore disregard any message and/or information not formally released by the Central Bank of Nigeria on this subject.

“Media practitioners are advised to please verify any information from the correct sources before publication.”


About Delia Innoma

Delia Innoma is a prolific writer, promoter, artist manager with full professional proficiency in English, German and Igbo languages. She studied accounting and computer programming at the Institute of Management and Technology Enugu and Germany respectively. Delia is also a devoted mother of two and she founded the Diamond Celebrities Magazine. Her sense of responsibility and commitment to the Christian faith are essential forces driving her daily activities.

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