The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned that it will penalise banks that fail to comply with its directive to dispense the newly redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 through their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
The warning was issued on Tuesday by the Director, Currency Operations Department, Ahmed Umar, during a training session for state directors of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Abuja.
Also, in Lagos on Tuesday, the apex bank urged banks to comply with the directive to load their ATMs with the new notes to ensure that they circulate widely.
Umar explained that the purpose of the CBN directive was to implement the January 31 deadline for the withdrawal of old naira notes in circulation.
The apex bank had ordered banks to suspend dispensing the new currency notes over the counter, and to only make them available via ATMs.
Umar said: “We want to use this training session to pass a message that CBN has enough currency notes to go round the general public.
“We, CBN management, have mandated banks to stop putting old notes in their ATM machines. They should only put the new notes.
“And there is a serialisation of the policy that they can put either N500, N1,000 or N200 notes, whichever denomination they have or combination of any of those notes, they should just put new notes in their machines.
“We are going to monitor to ensure that the banks comply and if they don’t, we have a penalty for non-compliance,” Umar said.
The CBN director further noted that in many countries across the world, it takes a few years to change a currency.
“In our own case what we had was basically over 20 years of having the same design of note.
“Over that period, what it did to us was to create an avenue for some people to master the act of counterfeiting the note.
“In our own case, what we have is the minimum of 17 years or more for us to redesign our currency.
“If you notice the N1,000 note that was introduced in 2005, it took 17 years for us to redesign it; N500 and N200 notes were also redesigned after 21 years and 22 years, respectively.
“So, if currency notes stay too long in the system, there is a tendency that people who counterfeit make a lot of efforts to produce the same notes. So, that is why there is a need to change our notes regularly,” he added.
Umar further pointed out that the N500 and N1,000 notes constituted 99 per cent of the currency notes being targeted by counterfeiters.
He said: “It is simple logic; the effort you put to counterfeit N1,000 is the same effort you put to counterfeit N5.
“So, why will they waste their energy doing small notes; they always target the higher note, particularly N1,000, because of the values attached to it.”
Also speaking, Director General, NOA, Garba Abari, said the partnership with the CBN was geared towards educating the agency’s staff to assist in enlightening Nigerians on the naira redesign policy.
Meanwhile, the CBN has urged banks to comply with the directive to load their ATMs across Nigeria with the new notes to ensure that the redesigned banknotes widely circulate.
CBN Lagos Branch Controller, Godfrey Koyor, made the call at a stakeholders’ sensitisation on the currency redesign at the popular Balogun market in Lagos.
He maintained that the January 31, 2023, deadline date for the retirement of the old notes in circulation remained sacrosanct.
Koyor said: “We are giving everyone the assurance that the new naira notes are available to everyone. We are distributing through the banking system. And as transactions take place, you are going to be having the new ones.
“So as people are giving out the old notes, they’ll be receiving the new notes. We have pushed a lot of the newly redesigned currency notes into circulation and it is going around.”
On the unavailability of the new notes at the ATMs, Koyor said: “I am assuring you that if you go to the ATMs, you will get the new notes. The essence of giving the directive that the new naira notes should be dispensed through the ATM is so that it will be available to people during working hours and off working hours.
“So, whether it is banking hours or outside the banking hours, if you go to your ATMs, you will get the new naira notes. It is a directive that the apex bank has given to all deposit money banks to make the money available in the machines so that people can have access to it and we are supplying them with the new notes and they are making it available to the machines.
“Everyone should have the assurance that the new naira notes are available. We are printing; we are supplying it and we are distributing it. The process is ongoing and sooner or later everybody will have it.
“It is a directive coming from the apex and the banks are complying and we expect every bank to comply. You will not expect 100 per cent at the same time, but the CBN is supplying to the banks and the banks will be replacing them. There are implications for non-compliance from the bank.”