Panic, confusion as traders, petrol stations reject old naira notes

“I was at the filling station yesterday to fill my car but when I offered the petrol pump attendant an old naira currency of N1,000 bill, she flatly rejected it, saying that they were instructed not to accept old naira notes again.


Residents of Abakaliki have urged the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, address the nation in a nationwide national broadcast on the suspension/extension of the deadline for the old naira note swap.

The residents who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews on Saturday in Abakaliki said that the appeal became imperative due to the rejection of the old naira notes by traders and petrol stations across the state.

The residents who expressed worry about the development noted that the refusal by the business community in Abakaliki amounted to a contravention of the recent Supreme Court ruling suspending the Feb. 10 deadline issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Mr Lawrance Onwe, a lawyer, said that Nigerians deserved to know from the government the true position of the naira swap to avoid the confusion, chaos and panic the development has generated since the deadline elapsed yesterday (Feb. 10).

“People are confused; there was a sudden stop by traders, filling stations transporters and even most of the corporate business entities in the metropolis.

“I was at the filling station yesterday to fill my car but when I offered the petrol pump attendant an old naira currency of N1,000 bill, she flatly rejected it, saying that they were instructed not to accept old naira notes again.

“All my explanation that FG has extended the deadline till Feb. 15 could not hold; in the end, I had to pay through the Point on Sale (POS) payment machine.

“There is an urgent need for the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Information, Ministry of Finance or the CBN to address the nation to stem the panic,” he said.

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Mr Silas Nkpuma, a civil servant, said that he almost entered into a physical brawl with the commercial motorcyclist (Okada rider) who insisted on being paid with a new naira note.

“I hadn’t any new naira notes on me and the man refused a mobile transfer and I was held hostage by the cyclist until a good Samaritan intervened and bailed me out.

“I think the confusion arising from the rejection of the old notes should have been averted if the public were properly informed by relevant government agencies.

“The rejection stemmed from apparent ignorance and what is more worrisome is that the filling stations and big business organisations started rejecting the old money yesterday,” Nkpuma said.

Mrs Chika Iteshi a foodstuff dealer at the Ophoke-Abba, Kpiri-Kpiri market within the state capital city, said that she stopped collecting the old naira because ‘Okada and Keke riders’ refused to collect it.

“They said that the old naira ceased to be legal tender on Feb. 10 and I don’t want to lose since I won’t be able to buy with the money after collecting, so, I am rejecting it from my customers.

“Yes, they said that Supreme Court suspended the deadline, but we know that the federal government hardly obey a court order that doesn’t favour it; so, If I hear that government has publicly said we should go ahead and collect, I will do that,” Iteshi said.

She lamented that the business and other commercial activities in the city had been brought to a standstill due to a lack of new naira notes in circulation.

Meanwhile, residents of Enugu on Saturday started rejecting the old naira notes for transactions, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

NAN investigation shows that many residents who are still holding the old naira notes are finding it difficult to spend them.
Mr George Nweze, a resident of Awkunanaw in Enugu South Local Government Area (LGA), told NAN that he observed the situation when he gave a bus driver old N500 which he rejected.
“I was surprised that the driver rejected the old note because I thought he could easily use it to buy fuel. He flatly rejected it,” Nweze said.
A petty trader, Mrs Marta Chukwu, also said that she went to buy provision with old naira notes, totalling N25,000, but this was rejected by her regular customer.
Chukwu said her customer declined to collect the notes from her, insisting that he stopped collecting old notes since on Friday.
“What saved me was that the person who sells recharge cards mercifully collected the notes from me, if not, I would have lost N25,000 just like that,” she said.
NAN observed that even tricycle operators now ask intending passengers if they have new notes before boarding.
Mr John Nwabueze, a civil servant, said he paid old notes to a taxi driver while going to work on Friday but while coming back in the evening things changed.
“The rejection actually started (yesterday) evening because I paid with old notes in the morning while going to work.
“In the evening when I boarded a bus, the driver said anyone with old notes should come down,” he said.
Speaking to NAN, a tricycle operator, Mr Ejike Ogbodo, said the problem started when an NNPC mega station around town started refusing old notes, insisting on new notes or transfer.
“We queued to buy fuel yesterday at the NNPC mega station and they refused to collect old notes from us; so, we decided not to be collecting old notes again,” Ogbodo said.
A resident, Mrs Maryline Ugwu, also claimed that her bank refused to collect old notes from her and she became confused.
A member of staff of one of the commercial banks in the city, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was possible that the bank refused to collect old notes.
“It is possible because we have not received any official directive from the CBN on the next line of action,” he said.
However, at Mayor market, Agbani road, some market women still collected old notes as a last resort.
A vegetable seller, Mrs Anthonia Ede, said she had no option than to collect anything that comes her way.
“I collect anyone I see,” she said. “Government should make the new notes available to Nigerians to end the agony and sufferings of the ordinary people of this country,” she added.

NAN reports that the CBN had earlier announced Jan. 31 deadline when the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes will replace the old bills and hence would cease being legal tender, but the apex bank further extended the date to Feb. 10.

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However, the Supreme Court ruling in an exparte application brought against the federal government by three states government suspended the Feb. 10 deadline.

NAN also reports that the Council of State had advised the CBN to allow the new and old naira notes to co-circulate to ease the pains and sufferings of Nigerians.