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January 31, 2023

DSS arrests syndicate selling new naira notes, fingers bank officials



…PoS operators charge 10%
…Money outside banks declines
…Banks reduce old notes OTC withdrawal to N10,000
…Customers’ frustation over new Naira notes continues

By Soni Daniel, Emma Ujah and Elizabeth Adegbesan, ABUJA

The Department of State Services, DSS, has arrested some members of an organised syndicate selling the new naira notes in parts of the country.

Although the DSS did not disclose the names and locations of the suspects, the agency said in a statement yesterday that some commercial bank officials were aiding and abetting the act.

This comes against the backdrop of the unleashing of the anti-corruption agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, on the banks by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, over alleged hoarding and diversion of new notes.

A statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya, warned that the secret police will go after those involved in the malfeasance.

The statement read: “The Department of State Services, DSS, hereby informs the public that it has intercepted some members of organised syndicates involved in the sale of the new re-designed naira notes.

“In the course of its operations, in this regard in parts of the country, it was also established that some commercial bank officials are aiding the economic malfeasance.


“Consequently, the Service warns the currency racketeers to desist from this ignoble act. Appropriate regulatory authorities are, in this same vein, urged to step up monitoring and supervisory activities to expeditiously address emerging trends.

“It should be noted that the Service has ordered its commands and formations to further ensure that all persons and groups engaged in the illegal sale of the notes are identified.

‘’Therefore, anyone with useful information relating to this is encouraged to pass the same to the relevant authorities”.

Customers’ frustration over new Naira notes continues

Meanwhile, despite the extension of the deadline for circulation of the cessation of old naira notes as legal tender affecting N1000, N500 and N200 denominations to February 10, bank customers have continued to face frustrations in accessing the new notes, as most of the Automated Teller Machines, ATMs, in the capital city were largely empty.

The few ATMs that had the new naira notes had very long queues, with customers standing in the scorching sun for hours to take their turns at the machines.

Even after queuing for many hours, some left empty-handed as the cash was exhausted before they could get to their turn at the ATMs.

A customer who did not want his name in print, said he had queued at two ATMs, belonging to different banks but could not withdraw any money because the notes were exhausted before it was his turn in each case.

He said even his attempt to withdraw old notes at the counter did not yield positive results, as he was told that banks were instructed not to pay old notes with the affected denominations.

Vanguard investigations showed that banks that had bank notes could only dispense the N50 and N100 denominations and pegged Over-The-Counter, OTC, withdrawals at only N10,000 per customer, payable in old notes.

A bank official told one of our correspondents that they were under strict directives of the CBN not to pay any customer more than N10, 000, adding that they could not do otherwise.

PoS operators charge 10%

In a related development, Point of Sales, PoS, operators were, yesterday, in brisk business, as they charged 10 per cent for every withdrawal.

For instance, anyone who withdrew N10,000 new notes was charged N1, 000; while old notes attracted between N200 and N500.

Most PoS operators who spoke to our correspondents, said they did not have new notes to dispense to customers.
However, the CBN has continued its naira redesign sensitization across the country as its officials took the awareness campaign to Jimeta Ultra-Modern Market, Yola, Adamawa State, last week.

Officials of CBN met market leaders and conducted on-the-spot assessment of the cash swap exercise in various parts of the state.

CBN Director, Internal Audit, Mrs. Alfa Lydia Ifeanyichukwu, who led the Adamawa State team, urged Nigerians to report any commercial bank that failed to dispense the naira notes at its business outlets for sanctioning.

Ifeanyichukwu stressed that the Naira Redesign policy came at a time the Nigerian economy was facing many challenges.
She added that some of the constraints were holding down the growth prospects of the nation and, therefore, urged well-meaning Nigerians to support the successful implementation of the policy.

She stated: “We advise members of the public to ensure that they deposit cash holdings in these denominations at their commercial banks.

“There is no limit to how much a customer can deposit between now and February 10, 2023, as the CBN has suspended bank charges and we encourage the public to explore other payment channels such as eNaira, POS, electronic transfer, USSD, internet banking, mobile operators and agents for their economic activities.”

In his remarks, state Branch Controller of the CBN, Mr. Sanusi Nyashi, announced that any commercial bank found not dispensing new notes would be sanctioned, noting that the CBN had directed all commercial banks to re-introduce Saturday banking to meet up with the high demand by Nigerians.

Nyashi said the apex bank will be keenly monitoring full implementation of the policy.

Also speaking at the sensitisation lecture held at the famous Jimeta Ultra Modern Market, Chairman of the traders Union of the Market, Alhaji Musa Yaro (Sarkin Kasuwa) advised that the CBN needed to do more in ensuring the availability of the new notes in the banks.

The chairman said that many of their members (traders) had been coming to them as leaders complaining that the banks were not dispensing the new Naira notes and that something urgent needed to be done in that regard.
Yaro advised the Apex bank to do more sensitisation work that can reach the larger population in the rural areas where there were no commercial banks.

Money outside banks declines

In a related development, the data contained in the CBN’s Money and Credit statistics has shown that currency-in-circulation (CIC) fell MoM by five per cent to N3 trillion in December 2022 from N3.16 trillion in November, resulting in a decline of four per cent in currency outside the bank to N2.5 trillion in December 2022 from N2.6 trillion in November.

However, currency-in-circulation fell month-on-month (m/m) by 3.9 per cent from N3.29 trillion in October while currency outside banks declined by 6.7 per cent to N2.64 trillion in November from N2.83 trillion in October 2022.
Reducing currency outside the banks was among the reasons the Central Bank of Nigeria gave for redesigning the N200, N500 and N1,000.

The apex bank gave today as the deadline for bank customers to deposit old notes of the redesigned denomination.
However, with many pleas from Nigerians and the Senate, the CBN extended the deadline for an old cash deposits to February 10, 2023.

The governor of CBN in the circular announcing the extension noted that the exercise had achieved a success rate of over 75 per cent of N2.7 trillion held outside the banking system.