The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) says the law allows Nigerians to deposit their old naira notes at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) after the 31 January deadline.
The CBN on 26 October, 2022, announced the introduction of redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes into the financial system.
But the policy is being criticised by many Nigerians as it has occasioned hardship in financial transactions.
Reacting to the central bank’s policy, the NBA appealed to the CBN for a review of the deadline for deposit of old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes at commercial banks across the country.
In a statement issued on Saturday by NBA’s national publicity secretary, Akorede Lawal, the association’s president, Yakubu Maikyau, urged the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, to review the policy.
The statement referenced a letter to Mr Emefiele, Mr Maikyau and lauded the policy “as it has the potential to stem corruption, votes buying and other criminal activities.”
“…The necessary logistical, infrastructural and manpower support, required for the successful implementation of the (monetary) policy are in short supply,” the NBA President was quoted as saying.
Citing Section 20 (3) of the CBN Act, Mr. Maikyau noted that “any person who shall be in possession of the old notes which have ceased to be legal tender by 31 January 2023 is at liberty to approach the CBN and demand for the redemption of the notes and the CBN is under statutory obligation to ‘redeem’ the notes.”
Highlighting the lack of adequate sensitisation on the naira redesign, the NBA recommended that “…in addition to educating Nigerians on demonetisation itself, a campaign on what happens to old bank notes after 31 January should be launched so as to adequately inform the public on what to do and prevent or reverse the rising panic or agitations caused by concerns about the inability of Nigerians to swap their old notes for the new notes by 31 January.”
NBA visits finance minister over naira redesign
Similarly, the NBA President on Friday paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, in Abuja.
The essence of the visit was to intimate Ms Ahmed of Nigerians’ concerns over the the “demonetisation policy of the CBN.”
The NBA President said Nigerians are grappling “the scarcity of the new notes and difficulty in swapping the old notes.”
He informed the minister that NBA’s 128 branches had been directed to conduct a “survey and assess the impact of the policy on Nigerians in their respective jurisdictions.”
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Recalling a similar policy during President Muhammadu Buhari’s military regime in 1984, the NBA urged the federal government “to avoid the repeat of the harsh experiences of Nigerians in 1984 when a similar demonietisation policy reportedly claimed the life of a trader who committed suicide because he was stranded with about N200,000 of the old notes.”
Mr Maikyau observed that “President Buhari may have been wrongly advised on the policy.”
Comparing the naira redesign policy with the UK government which announced a date for demonetisation 18 months in advance, Mr Maikyau lamented that Nigerians were given “a mere 45 days to swap (the old) naira notes (with new ones).”
The finance minister was quoted to have commended the NBA for expressing concerns over the issue.
Ms Ahmed said the government was aware of the “concerns over the policy and that the ministry would reach out to the CBN in a bid to consider revisiting the January 31 terminal date of the demonetisation policy.”
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