The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has expressed strong concerns over the implications of the January 31 deadline set for the withdrawal of old N200, N500 and N1000 notes from circulation in the country.
Nigerians had raised serious concerns over the implications of the policy, as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, remained unbent about the deadline.
Nigerians approaching various commercial banks to deposit the old notes have had to go through pains amid complaints about the scarcity of the new notes.
However, in a letter addressed to Emefiele by NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), on Saturday the association said the law allows Nigerians to redeem their old naira notes at the CBN even after the deadline.
While appealing to the apex financial institution to consider a review of its demonetization policy, Maikyau noted that the deadline would take its toll on underprivileged Nigerians.
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In supporting his claim, the legal luminary cited Section 20(3) of the CBN Act which states thus: “Notwithstanding Sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section, the Bank shall have power, if directed to do so by the President and after giving reasonable notice in that behalf, to call in any of its notes or coins on payment of the face value thereof and any note or coin with respect to which a notice has been given under this Sub-section, shall, on the expiration of the notice, cease to be legal tender, but, subject to section 22 of this Act, shall be redeemed by the Bank upon demand.
“Any person who shall be in possession of the old notes which have ceased to be legal tender by 31 January 2023 is at liberty to approach the CBN and demand for the redemption of the notes and the CBN is under statutory obligation to ‘redeem’ the notes.
“The necessary logistical, infrastructural and manpower support, required for the successful implementation of the policy are in short supply and should be greatly improved upon if they are to be leveraged for full implementation of the policy with minimal loss or economic hardship.
“Our recommendation, on this issue is that in addition to educating Nigerians on demonetisation itself, a campaign on what happens to old bank notes after 31 January should be launched so as to adequately inform the public on what to do and prevent or reverse the rising panic or agitations caused by concerns about the inability of Nigerians to swap their old notes for the new notes by 31 January.”