REPORTER: UCHE NDEKE
Some traders in Agboedo Market, Nnewi, Anambra State have accused commercial banks of hoarding and selling the new naira notes to politicians and money vendors.
They made the allegation when a team from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Awka Branch went on sensitization tour to the area on the need to deposit the redesigned currencies to banks before the deadline.
The people said they were yet to see the new notes in circulation despite the claims by the apex bank that it had been distributed to commercial banks.
The Central Bank of Nigeria noted that the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes will circulate side by side with the redesigned notes till the 31st of January 2023 and should not be rejected as a means of exchange for purchasing goods and services. .
However as the deadline draws close, some residents have continued to express fear if the new naira notes will be properly be in circulation before the old one ceases to exist.
This, according to them, is because commercial banks, point of sale operators among others have continued to issue the old notes to customers even after they had deposited it with the hope of getting the new ones.
Two respondents, Mr. Okechukwu Chukwudum and Pastor Frank Ejimbe, who trade in Nnewi, while complaining about the development, alleged that some money vendors in the area had the new notes in bulk and were collecting #13,000 in exchange of #10,000 of the new currency to customers.
Another trader, Mr. Ikenna Francis accused the commercial banks of keeping the new notes for politicians, who they claimed pay higher to exchange the old denominations with the new ones.
A resident, Mr. Samuel Onwuka, said he went to withdraw from the ATM but was surprised that some banks’ machines were still dispensing the old naira notes.
Radio Nigeria also interacted with a POS operator in Nnewi, Miss Rita Daniel, who also said she got old notes from the bank and wondered how the CBN would insist on January 31st deadline when the new notes had not been fully circulated.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria had said that all commercial banks had been directed to commence issuance of the new notes to customers.
The Director, Other Financial Institutions Supervision, Department, CBN Awka, Mrs. Ngozi Nwosu, reiterated that the banks had been properly briefed and directed to load their machines with the new notes.
Mrs. Nwosu described the allegations by some traders as mere speculation, insisting that the new notes were already in circulation through the commercial banks.
Another team led by Mrs. Nkeiru Asiegbu, also a Director, Other Financial Institutions, CBN, visited the New Parts Market Nkpor; Odera Market, Awka; and other areas where they distributed fliers and sensitized the populace to the features of the new naira notes as well as the need for them to endeavour to deposit all old notes before the deadline.
EDITED BY CHUKWUBUIKE MADU