The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been asked by the Council of State to print more new Naira notes or recirculate the old notes.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, who briefed newsmen after the meeting on Friday in Abuja, said the decision was taken to ease the troubles Nigerians were going through.
The CBN redesigned the N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes and gave January 31, 2023, as the deadline for the return of the old notes. But this was later shifted forward to February 10, 2023.
Many Nigerians have been unable to withdraw their funds through the various channels in the past weeks, sparking anger across the country.
To douse the tension, three state governments ran to the Supreme Court to compel the federal government from implementing the deadline. An interim injunction was granted, and next Wednesday was fixed for the hearing of the case.
Today, President Muhammadu Buhari convened an emergency Council of State meeting in Abuja, which had former presidents and others in attendance.
The meeting started this morning and ended in the afternoon, after which Mr Malami addressed journalists on the outcome of the deliberations, noting that the federal government was advised to obey the Supreme Court order and await its decision next week on the deadline.
On January 29, 2023, the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, disclosed that the bank had mopped up about N1.9 trillion of the old notes and was expecting the return of about N900 billion.
A few days ago, the Governor of Kaduna State, Mr Nasir El-Rufai, who was at today’s meeting in Abuja, claimed that the central bank only printed about N300 billion of the redesigned currency notes, stressing that this was also part of the cash crunch in the country.
New data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) has revealed that in January 2023, the total cashless transactions in Nigeria increased on a year-on-year basis by 45.41 per cent to N39.58 trillion.
The significant growth in the use of technology for the payment of goods and services in the country during the period under review may have been influenced by the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to limit the circulation of cash in the financial system.
After the Central Bank disclosed last October that it was redesigning the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, it said it would reduce the amount of cash in circulation.
It first said individuals would only be allowed to withdraw N100,000 per week, while corporate organisations would be limited to N500,000 per week.
However, after a public outcry, it raised the weekly cash withdrawal limit for individuals to N500,000 and for corporates to N5 million weekly through various channels, over-the-country (OTC), Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point of Sale (POS).
In the latest data from the NIBSS, it was stated that POS transactions last month surged by 40.69 per cent to N807.16 billion from the N573.72 billion achieved in January 2022.
These transactions were tracked by the NIBSS through the Nigeria Instant Payment System (NIP) and POS terminals, and it was observed that the usage of electronic channels for transactions jumped by 45.50 per cent in the period under consideration to 638 million times from 438.48 million times.