Banks defy CBN on torn N50 notes, others - PUNCH
BY Ihuoma Chiedozie, Abuja
Indications emerged on Thursday that Nigerian commercial banks were not complying with a Central Bank of Nigeria directive on the replacement’s of mutilated naira notes with new ones.
The CBN had opened a three-month window from June 3 to September 2 for customers across the country to replace old notes with new ones in all the banks.
The provision of the three-month window was informed by the apex bank’s resolve to finally replace old torn naira notes following the banks’ failure to comply with previous directives.
Nigerians in different parts of the country had been complaining of the prevalence of old, dirty, smelly, worn and mutilated notes, which some medical experts said could cause some health challenges.
However, checks by our correspondent at some banks in the Wuse 2 and Jabi areas of Abuja on Thursday showed that the banks were not complying with the CBN’s directive.
The banks visited by our correspondent included UBA, Wema Bank, First City Monument Bank and First Bank.
In response to requests and enquiries by our correspondent, customer service personnel and cashiers at the banks said they were not replacing mutilated naira notes.
Our correspondent had gone to the banks as a customer that needed to replace some mutilated notes.
Some of the banks’ workers who attended to our correspondent appeared surprised, or at a loss, when the request to replace mutilated notes was tabled before them.
A cashier at First Bank, while also responding to the request, said such replacement could only be possible, “depending”.
“Depending on what?” our correspondent asked.
“Depending on the level of mutilation,” the cashier explained.
It was not clear whether the cashier, as well as other workers, including customer service personnel at the banks visited by our correspondent, were indeed aware of the directive.
Checks by our correspondent equally indicated that customers were not taking advantage of the three-month window to replace their mutilated notes.
None of the customers in the banking halls at the time our correspondent visited was there to replace worn bank notes.
Some of the customers, who overheard the request for replacement of old notes, and others who interacted with our correspondent, said that they were not aware that the CBN had directed banks to replace mutilated notes.
Also, a cashier in one of the banks, who refused to disclose her name, revealed that customers hardly came to the bank to request replacement of old notes.
Rather, she explained, that some customers only made requests for new notes.
She further disclosed that some others asked for lower currency denominations.
“We hardly get requests for replacement of mutilated notes,” the cashier said.
Efforts to get the reaction of the CBN to the development were not successful.
Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Isaac Okoroafor, in a text message to our correspondent said that he could not respond appropriately until the deadline had reached.
He said, “I can’t tell you for now and you know I am in faraway Zaria on an assignment. It is only at the end of the process that one can begin to find out the level of compliance.”
It would be recalled that the CBN had asked customers to file complaints if banks refused to comply with the order to replace mutilated notes.