The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has clarified that the old 200, 500, and 1000 naira notes would continue to be legal tender even after December 31, 2023.
Recall that in October 2022, Godwin Emefiele, former CBN governor had unveiled plans to redesign the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, urging citizens to deposit their old notes before January 31, 2023, as they would lose their status as legal tender beyond that date.
However, this directive led to a cash shortage in February, causing hardships for citizens and prompting protests and bank attacks in some parts of the country.
As the hardship lingered, three northern states — Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara — in a motion ex-parte filed by, AbdulHakeem Mustapha (SAN), prayed the apex court to halt the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) naira redesign policy.
A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice John Okoro, in a unanimous ruling, granted an interim injunction restraining the FG, CBN, commercial banks etc from implementing the February 10, deadline for the old 200, 500 and 1000 Naira notes to stop being a legal tender.
The Supreme Court in another judgement delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim on March 3, 2023, ordered that old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes remain in circulation till December 31, 2023.
The apex court also nullified the Federal Government’s naira redesign policy, declaring it as an affront to the 1999 Constitution.
Citing Section 23(2)1 of the constitution, the court held that the dispute between the Federal Government and states must involve law or facts.
Following, the judgement in March, the CBN announced that these specific banknotes would no longer be in circulation after the end of this year.
There are concerns that it could happen again with only 2 months remaining until the Supreme Court’s December deadline.
However, in response to concerns about the scarcity of these banknotes and the approaching year-end deadline, a senior official from the CBN reassured the public that both old and new banknotes would still be considered legal tender.
“They are all legal tender. Nigerians should continue to spend them. There is no need to worry about the December 31 deadline,” the official told Business Day.
Furthermore, the CBN official emphasised that the phasing out of the old notes would be a gradual process to avoid causing additional hardships for the people.
“We won’t want Nigerians to undergo similar pain as they experienced earlier this year. The phasing out of the old notes will be gradual. It won’t be rushed,” the official assured.