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New naira: Anambra traders seek deadline shift, protest black market

News

Tony Okafor, Awka

Traders in Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka markets have mounted pressure on the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN) to extend the deadline for old naira notes to cease being legal tender.

They said the redesigned naira notes were in short supplies in commercial banks, while alleging that the new money is being sold in black markets across markets in the state.

The traders stated this during the sensitisation of traders in major markets in the three major cities in the at the weekend by officials of the Central Bank.

One of the traders, Chigozie Exenwa, said “The old notes are expected to be out of circulation by January 31 yet there is scarcity of the new notes as banks keep dispensing old notes to their customers.

Our correspondent gathered that different stakeholders, including monarchs and religious leaders in the state mounted pressure on CBN officials during advocacy visits on them to extend the deadline in order to allow the new notes to circulate well and ensure the mop up of the old notes.

At the Nkwo Nnewi New Spare Parts markets, traders reacted angrily to the unavailability of the new naira notes in banks.

Some of the traders told the visiting CBN officials that as at Friday, they had not been able to access the new naira notes in banks in the state.

They said they only access them through black market retailers, wondering how black market operators could have the notes in large quantities, when commercial banks complain that the notes were scarce.

A trader, Pastor Frank Ejimbe accused bank officials of dark deals in the exercise, saying “You people are doing business with the new naira notes. How can black market people have the new notes to the point that any amount you want, they can sell to you, but banks don’t have it. Does that make sense?”

The CBN officials also visited Building Materials Market, Nkpor, near Onitsha, Odera Market in Awka, where they enjoined residents and traders to deposit all old naira notes in possession to the banks before the 31st of January.
The Director, Other Institutions Department, CBN, Awka, Mrs. Nkiru Asiegbu, who led the delegation announced that the CBN would not extend the deadline, hence the need for the people to strive to deposit aold notes of N200, N500 and N1000 before the last day of January.

According to her, the Awka branch of the apex bank, had met with heads of all commercial banks and directed that they should begin the distribution of the new naira notes without further delay.

She also called on the Operators of Point of Sells, (POS) and other financial institutions to ensure that they deposit the old currency with them to commercial banks as new notes would be to issued them for their business transactions.

Two traders, Mr. Nwabueze Igwe and Mr. Sylvester Ekweonu, however, expressed worry that commercial banks and point of Sells operators were still issuing the old naira notes to customers.

Two others, Mrs. Nkechi Ogbu and Mr. Solomon Ejike, noted that the deadline was too short to mop up all the old notes in circulation across the country and appealed for the extension of the period.

The Central Bank team encouraged the people to embrace the new redesigned naira notes, which had been approved by the Federal Government.

Ifeizu

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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