President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that old N500 and N1000 notes are no more legal tender.
In his national broadcast on Thursday morning, Buhari directed Nigerians to swap the affected currencies at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other designated places.
This is contrary to the Supreme Court injunction, which restrained the CBN and Federal Government from phasing out the old notes by February.
The apex bank had redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 notes late last year and set a deadline of January 31 for the use of old naira notes.
But after intense pressure, the CBN extended the deadline to February 10.
Some governors had met with Buhari over the naira redesign, saying it was causing hardship. The president had told them to give him seven days to take action.
However, the governor filed a suit at the Supreme Court two days to the deadline and the court restrained the CBN from banning the use of the old naira notes from February 10, 2023, but Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, had said there was no need for the deadline to be shifted.
This had sparked confusion as banks, petrol stations, malls and many others rejected the old notes while Nigerians spent hours in queues in the process of getting the new notes, which were scarce.
On Wednesday, some persons were killed while banks were destroyed during protests which held simultaneously in at least five states.
In his broadcast, Buhari acknowledged the hardship Nigerians as a result of the naira redesign policy, saying he had directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make new notes available.
“In line with Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007, all existing old N1000 and N500 notes remain redeemable at the CBN and designated points.
“Considering the health of our economy and the legacy we must bequeath to the next administration and future generations of Nigerians, I admonish every citizen to strive harder to make their deposits by taking advantage of the platforms and windows being provided by the CBN.
“Let me assure Nigerians that our administration will continue to assess the implementation with a view to ensuring that Nigerians are not unnecessarily burdened. In this regard, the CBN shall ensure that new notes become more available and accessible to our citizens through the banks.
Buhari said the monetary policy has reduced the influence of money in politics, making specific reference to the upcoming elections.
“Fellow citizens, on the 25th of February, 2023 the nation would be electing a new President and National Assembly members. I am aware that this new monetary policy has also contributed immensely to the minimization of the influence of money in politics.”
“”This is a positive departure from the past and represents a bold legacy step by this administration, towards laying a strong foundation for free and fair elections,” he said.
The Supreme Court has adjourned matter in the suit filed against the naira policy to February 22.
At least, six governors are challenging the federal government in court.