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Extend January 31 Deadline On Old Naira Notes, National Assembly Tells CBN, Emefiele Says No, We Won’t Shift

The Senate and House of Representatives have again asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to immediately extend the deadline for the withdrawal of old naira notes from circulation which it fixed on July 31, 2023.

The apex bank had on December 15 commenced circulation of newly redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes and set January 31, 2023 as deadline for the withdrawal of old notes.

The Red Chamber had in December 2022 directed the CBN to extend the deadline but the resolution was shunned by the apex bank which on Tuesday insisted that no going back on the deadline.

This has caused panic in many parts of the country as the deadline draws nearer, with thousands, especially those in rural areas, storming banks to exchange the old notes with the new ones.

However, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, has said there will be no extension of the January 31st deadline for the old naira notes.

There have been calls from different quarters for the extension of the deadline in view of some challenges.

But speaking at the post Monetary Policy Committee briefing of the bank in Abuja on Tuesday, Emefiele said, “I don’t have good news for those who want deadline of old naira to be changed because we will not move it.

“People are holding and vaulting the naira in their houses and they don’t have the license to do that, because they use it to speculate on the naira.”

He said the apex bank has so far mopped up about N1.5 trillion, hoping to achieve about N2 trillion before the deadline.

He said: “We have pleaded with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) not to harass anybody, and on my honor, they will not do that.”

Senators, during a debate on a motion by Sadiq Suleiman Umar (APC, Kwara) at Tuesday’s plenary, said the new notes were not enough in circulation, warning that if the deadline was not extended, there would be chaos in many parts of the country.

The lawmakers also expressed dismay that the CBN had insisted on the January 31 deadline despite huge public outcries.

He said, “In global best practices, currencies are phased out, not forced out. Thus, adequate time is required for this policy to be successful.

“The policy, though a good one, it is not fair for the incoming government which requires a smooth transition that will help to promote sound financial system in the country.

“Coercing the people to accept the CBN policy within a short time frame will cause monetary challenges and impact negatively on the micro-economic activities across the country.”The House therefore urged the CBN to extend the implementation of the cashless policy to at least one year as well as review the daily withdrawal limit and charges therefrom.

It also urged the apex bank to make the new redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 notes available to Nigerians.

It called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene on the insistance of the CBN on the right deadline for the implementation of the cashless policy and phasing out of the old notes.

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