The Central Bank of Nigeria has said that it will be illegal for banks to compel their customers to accept the N5000 note when it comes into existence..
The apex bank, which denied allegations that it was forcing the new structure of the naira on Nigerians, said customers could reject N5000 note from banks
“I say this with all sense of responsibility as the deputy governor of the central bank that we shall ensure that no bank imposes N5000 on anybody who does not want it. You can go to your bank and say you don’t need N5000 note,” Deputy Governor (Operations) of the CBN, Mr. Tunde Lemo, said in a Channels Television interview programme on Saturday.
Lemo added that, “Every Nigerian has the prerogative of the currency he or she wants to have. You can go to your bank and say, you don’t need N5000 note. You can say ‘give me N500, N200 and N100.’ It will be illegal for that bank to say you must have N5000.
“We did not say take or leave it. If you don’t need it, you don’t need to ask for it. We are not saying people will be compelled to take the N5000 note.”
The ‘reject-N5000 note-call’ came even as the Nigerian Bar Association insisted that it would take the apex bank to court if it went ahead to introduce the N5000 denomination.
The NBA told The PUNCH on Sunday that it had not changed its position on the N5000 note. The association had in a statement after its Annual General Meeting on August 31, described introduction of N5000 as “a scam.”
But Lemo said the CBN was not averse to the criticisms trailing the planned currency restructuring. He described as untrue, a claim that the apex bank was forcing the proposed scheme on Nigerians.
He said, “We are public officers. We operate for public good. We may not be popular. Central banking anywhere in the world is not a popularity contest. We are interested in doing what is good and to explain what we are doing to the satisfaction of the public that we serve. That is why the dialogue that is going on is very important.”
Submitting that that the CBN had the power to print currency notes and mint coins , Lemo added that it (CBN) was taking advantage of technology to stay “ahead of counterfeiters.”
The CBN deputy governor also faulted the claim that the apex bank’s cashless policy in Lagos State had failed.
He explained that the bank first introduced cashless banking in Lagos because the state is a miniature Nigeria and due to the level of infrastructure obtainable therein .
Lemo said, “There are challenges that are outside the area of control of individuals and stakeholders. These are issues that we are dealing with. We cannot say we failed. It is just that the speed with which we should be running is slowed down by some of these challenges.”
He said that the CBN had set up a Customers’ Protection Department to handle complaints against banks.
He added that banks had been asked to set up help desks to cater for the new scheme and that issues that are not resolved within 48 hours should be referred to the CBN.
Meanwhile, the NBA has said it will go to court to stop the CBN from going ahead with the proposed introduction of N5000 note.
The association had in a statement described the proposal as a “shallow and poorly thought-out initiative” by the CBN. It added that N5000 notes would diminish the lives of Nigerians and push corruption and money laundering to unimaginable heights.
The NBA president, Mr. Okey Wali (SAN), while reacting to the endorsement of the scheme by the National Economic Management Team, said the association had not changed its position.
Wali, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, explained that though the association was watching the situation, it would not go back on its position.
Wali said, “We are watching the situation, but we are maintaining our position that the CBN should not go ahead with the introduction of N5000 note.
“We made it very clear in our communiqué why the Federal Government should not go ahead with it (introduction of N5000 note).”
Also on Sunday, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communnion), Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, said the introduction of N5000 note was not the solution to the problems facing Nigeria for now.
He spoke at the consecration of the Bishop of Ifo, Ogun State, Nathaniel Oladejo Ogundipe, at St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral, Kubwa in the Federal Capital Territory.
He said, “For me, they have explained to us that it is not going to cause inflation, but in my opinion as a common man, we don’t need N5000 note. We don’t even have money and there is poverty everywhere. If there is something else we can do with money, let us do it and stop not printing N5000 note. I don’t think it is desirable.
“It may not cause inflation as people fear, according to the economic analysis. But we are aware that the ones introduced before actually caused problems and reduced our lower denomination to nothing. I don’t think higher denomination is our problem today. Nigeria has many other problems to face than introducing higher denomination of money.”