The Central Bank of Nigeria has expressed its intention to extend the validity of the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes indefinitely. In a statement signed by the Director, Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin, on Tuesday, the apex bank announced its desire to prolong the legal tender status of the old naira notes beyond any specific expiry date. The statement, titled ‘CBN To Allow Old Design Naira Banknotes as Legal Tender, Ad Infinitum,’ outlined that the decision aligns with international best practices and aims to prevent the recurrence of previous challenges.
The statement emphasized, “Without prejudice, the Central Bank of Nigeria wishes to inform the general public of its desire to extend the legal tender status deadline of the old design of N200, N500, and N1,000 denominations; ad infinitum.” It further stated that all banknotes issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria, in accordance with Section 20(5) of the CBN Act 2007, will continue to remain legal tender indefinitely, even beyond the initial December 31, 2023, deadline.
The CBN is actively working with relevant authorities to overturn a subsisting court ruling on the matter. All CBN branches nationwide will continue to issue and accept all denominations of Nigerian banknotes, both old and redesigned, to and from deposit money banks. The public is encouraged to accept all Naira banknotes, whether old or redesigned, for day-to-day transactions and handle them with care to preserve their lifecycle. Additionally, the public is urged to embrace alternative payment methods and e-channels for day-to-day transactions.
This marks the third official statement from the CBN regarding naira notes. In an earlier announcement, the CBN clarified that there was no scarcity of naira in the country. Subsequently, it affirmed that every banknote remains legal tender and should not be rejected.
The CBN’s recent directive comes in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling in March that directed the CBN to allow old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes as legal tender until December 31, 2023. The former Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, had previously disclosed a plan to redesign certain naira denominations to control currency circulation, combat counterfeit currency, and address ransom payments. The existing old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes were initially slated to retain legal tender status until January 31, 2023, with subsequent extensions to February 10, 2023. However, a legal challenge led by several state governments resulted in the Supreme Court invalidating the new naira design policy in March 2023.
With the latest CBN directive, Nigerians can expect to use old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes beyond December 2023. Victor Olojo, the National President of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, welcomed the decision, stating that it will prevent scarcity and speculations.