See memo CBN sent to banks to accept old N500 and N1000 notes before denying it

  • A leaked memo has revealed how CBN asked commercial banks to start accepting old naira notes on Friday, February 17, 2023
  • The memo sent to all commercial banks said customers could return old naira notes to the tune of N500,000 and below to their banks
  • But in a twist of events, CBN reversed itself and labeled the report fake news

Following the confusion that trailed media reports about CBN asking Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to accept old naira notes on Friday, 17, 2023, many Nigerians have been asking what happened that the CBN would reverse itself so soon.

Due to the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigerians should take old N500 and N100 notes to the Central of Nigeria (CBN), many Nigerians besieged bank offices across Nigeria on Friday, February 17, 2023.

Emefiele, CBN
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele
Source: Getty Images

Uncontrollable crowd at CBN branches

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Many reported arriving at the CBN office as early as 1 am and lined in front of the CBN office in Marina, Lagos, where there was a rowdy crowd.

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Some reported arriving as early as 4: am given about number 406, meaning there was a sizeable number of persons already at the apex bank.

According to Daily Trust, some had to sleep at nearby hotels in Kaduna, so they get up early and be at the CBN office in the state.

When the crowd at the CBN offices went wild, bank officials, unable to control the crowd, asked them to return to their respective banks to deposit the old naira notes.

The apex bank subsequently instructed commercial banks to begin accepting old N500 and N1000 notes.

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The alleged CBN memo read:

“I am directed to convey to Management of the Central Bank of Nigeria directive that, all Deposit Money Banks commence collecting old naira notes of N1000 and N500 from their customers with immediate effect.

“Please note that customers with amounts of up to N500,000.00 and below can deposit into their bank account with their commercial bank. Any customer with an amount more than N500,000.00 should be directed to CBN for a deposit.

“Kindly comply accordingly. Thank you,” the CBN memo addressed to Branch/Operational Managers of banks read.

Immediately after the news got out, journalists reached out to CBN’s Director of Communications Department, Osita Nwanisiobi, who confirmed to them that banks could take the old N500 and N1000 notes but capped them at N500,000 and below.

CBN denies asking banks to accept old naira notes

A few moments after Nwanisiobi confirmed the development, the reports went viral on social media with a palpable sigh of relief, with many saying they would move to their banks the following day.

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In compliance with the CBN directive, commercial banks issued public notices to their customers on social media, telling them that, with effect from Saturday, February 18, 2023, they would begin accepting old notes again.

A banks notice read:

“Dear Valued Customer,

Our branches shall receive old N500 and N1000 notes of up to a maximum of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) after registration on the CBN portal. Please note that deposits of more than N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) should be taken to the nearest CBN location.

“In addition, our branches will be open tomorrow, Saturday February 18 2023 to receive old notes,” a notice issued by one bank read.

Less than an hour after the viral report, Nwanisiobi issued a rebuttal, claiming the apex band never directed banks to accept old notes.

Nwanisiobi not only reversed himself but accused the media of spreading fake news.

A memo signed by Nwanisiobi read:

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“The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria has been drawn to some fake and unauthorized messages quoting the CBN as having authorized 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 recirculates 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,” his statement read.

Many commercial banks which had posted notices asking customers to return old notes started deleting them, triggering confusion.

Bank officials react

An anonymous bank official said he is shocked at CBN’s denial, stating that the communication is genuine.

“Banks received the same directive from CBN. We were even directed to work on Saturday and Sunday, except on election weekend,” the bank official said anonymously.

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Godwin Emefiele directs commercial banks to make available N200 notes to Nigerians

A bank customer showed a message from CBN directing him to go to his bank to deposit old naira notes because he had less than the amount that could be deposited at CBN branches.

Nigerians confused as CBN denies asking banks to collect old N500 and N1,000 Notes, banks React reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria has backtracked on earlier reports that it asked Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to accept old N500, N500 notes.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the bank referred to the message as fake news and referred Nigerians to the nationwide broadcast by President Buhari on Thursday, February 16, 2023.

The CBN spokesman had told media houses, including that Nigerians could return old N500 and N1000 notes to commercial banks but capped it at N500,000 and below.


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