January 26, 2023

Old notes deadline: We ‘re bound by CBN’s guidelines – Commercial Banks

…say they are getting new naira notes, dispensing as received through ATM machines, give percentages

…We ‘ll recommend the issuance of warrant of arrest to Gbajabiamila-Reps’ Leader, Doguwa

…says dark horse behind agenda

…I will sign warrant of arrest on Tuesday

By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja

The commercial banks yesterday told the House of Representatives that they were bound by the guidelines of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as their regulator in the implementation of the cashless policy.

The banks in a meeting with the adhoc committee of the House set up to interface with them on the withdrawal of old notes said that they are getting allocation of the new naira notes from the CBN and dispensing same to their customers through the Automatic Teller Machines (ATM).

According to them, the January 31 deadline of the CBN was still sacrosanct.

It will be recalled that the committee chaired by the leader of the House, Hon. Ado Doguwa had invited the various commercial banks to confirm or refute the claims by the CBN that there was sufficient new naira notes in circulation.

Represented by their various staff, the banks took turns to respond to the issues.

They said that due to the cashless policy, they were not expected to collect as much money as deposited with the CBN, stressing that the public should first understand the import of the policy.

We are getting allocation of new notes from CBN -Banks

They also revealed that the new naira notes can only be accessed through the ATM and not t the counters.

For instance, the representative of Access Bank, Hadiza Ambuza said “We are paying put as much as we. We are collecting the money and loading them at the ATM as quickly as we get them. Unfortunately, we are not getting them quickly. We have gotten about 10 percent of the total money. That’s is challenge that we have. We are doing the best we can up until the deadline.”

Also, the representative of Lotus Bank, Mohammed Abdul said ” On the issue, we have been receiving the new notes and returning the old notes. However in the last few weeks, it’s been very insufficient what we are receiving. We received the average of N40 million weekly for our bank in Abuja”.

For Sterling Bank, its representative, Orlando Umoren said “Looking at the issue on the ground, CBN presents allocations to banks, whether or not this allocation is sufficient is a different ballgame. As I speak with you, all our ATMs are dispensing. Allocations are shared. What we received fluntuates. We received a minimum of N150 million to be shared. In Kaduna, N150 million, in Kano, we received N100 million to be shared amongst the branches in the metropolis. They are being fed in the ATM only and not to be given to the customers across the counter. In Abuja here, what we are given is about 80 percent. In Kano, it is less than 10. What we get in return is nothing comparable… The reason why the new naira note is not coming. It is in the furtherance of the cashless policy. The banks are still under pressure to ensure that they met the deadline.”

Similar Uzza of Guaranty Trust Bank said “We collect old note and distribute new notes. We have been doing that. In terms of numbers, I can give you. We collected more that 60 percent of what we sent. Accross the country, we collected about 60 percent about two days ago of what we sent. We won’t collect as much as we deposited because of the cashless policy. We have collected more than 60 of the new notes. But it varies from town to town.”

Also the Eco Bank representative, Rita Etomi-Ademola said “What I can say is that 255 branches we have, have been collecting the notes and feeding the ATMs. I may not have the details here because I don’t want to give wrong figures.”

For Wema bank, the Head of Branch Services said “the engagement is ongoing. CBN is giving us allocation. I may not be able to avail the House the figures.”

On his part, the representative of the United Bank for Africa, UBA said “what we are doing right now is to load all the new notes. As regards the allocation, the figure is about 70 percent and I can assure that we collect money from the CBN everyday. As we collect, we load it. We collect the old notes and send to CBN. That is still ongoing.”

Similarly, Femi Bamgboye of Sun Trust Bank said “we collected about 80 percent of the new notes. We get about 100 million of the new notes.”

For First Bank, its representative, Shehu Aliyu said “We have seen an upsurge of people coming to open account and deposit money into those accounts. We have been handling this as much as we can. After this hearing, we will bring details. We have been paying out new notes across the country.”

Also, the Regional Executive for Heritage Bank, Oniko Daniel said the public needed to understand the policy as couched by the CBN.

“If you load a cartridge which is about 8 million, in less than 2 hours that 8 million is finished. It must be understood. People want to deposit N10 million and want to collect N10 million, It is not possible. CBN is doing cash swap in route areas. The public needs to know the guidelines and what the CBN is saying. CBN guideline is more or less a rule to the commercial banks”, he said.

For the Hassan Umar’s Fidelity Bank, “We do received about 60 percent of what we deposited with the Central Bank in terms of the new notes”.

The responses of the bank’s representative obviously did not meet the expectations of the lawmaker who expressed disappointment that there was no straight figures of the new naira notes to quote, an observation the chairman, Doguwa said was very discouraging.

It’s discouraging banks are not giving us figures-Reps

He also added that the banks needed to interrogate the CBN on some of their guidelines that affected the customers.

“It is very discouraging that you don’t have figures. We need to have the fact and figures when the CBN is insisting we have given you enough.

“When CBN is issuing a guide that is not in the interest of your customers, you don’t ask them? You are shortchanging your customer. You collect the old notes across the country and dispense the new notes only through the ATM”, he said.

Also speaking, Hon. Obinna Chidoka said there was a disconnect between the banks and the CBN as they don’t want their licenses withdrawn.

He said: “You came here not prepared. I see a disconnect. You are very wary of your license and can’t really talk”.

Similarly, Hon. Ahmed Jaha sought to know if the bank will cease accepting the old note after the deadline.

“In the law, no time was given for the bank to stop collecting the old notes…directive to the bank to stop collecting the old notes after it ceased to be a legal tender?”, He asked.

For Hon. Nkem Abonta, there may be an economic sabotage.

“For every money printed, there is a value for it. If at the end of January, the new notes are not accepted, don’t you think it’s an economic sabotage? Operators should let us know”, he asked.

Don’t put us on the spot-Banks representatives

Pressed to see reasons with them to push for extension, the bankers however sidestepped the question for commitment.

One of the representative however said “Mr chairman and members of the committee that is putting us on the spot. Nigeria People have spoken and we gave seen, you are the representatives of the Nigerian people Mr chairman.
You are in a better position to say whether this is fair to the Nigerians otherwise for this exercise to stop on the 31st and you have said it. So our opinion doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter Mr chairman. Thank you Mr Chairman”, the representative said.

Committee to recommend issuance of warrant of arrest

Earlier in his remarks, Doguwa who read section 20 (3) of CBN act and distributed copies amongst the bankers said a dark horse was behind the agenda, stressing that the committee would recommend that the speaker invokes the relevant sections of the law to issue a warrant of arrest on the CBN governor.

“It is our position of this committee and by extension, the position of the house of representatives that the letter they have earlier sent to us is only an action in futility. The House does not count on that letter whatsoever and it holds no water at all.

“I want to rule that the Central Bank of Nigeria through its chief executive, who is the governor of the central bank, has decided to flagrantly disregard and disrespect the institution of the legislature. And on this note, I would want to say that this committee will outrightly inform the house.

“Commercial banks are complaining, their customers are complaining, the economy is bleeding, and we go to the polls in these circumstances. I want to believe that somewhere, somehow, there is a dark horse behind the agenda and we will not allow that cause to continue to drag the success of our electoral process.

“By this position, the House of Representatives is now compelled to recommend to Mr speaker to go ahead and initiate the necessary instrumentality of the law to compel the governor of the central bank to appear before this constitutional committee”, he said.

I will sign warrant of arrest Tuesday next week -Gbajabiamila

Speaking earlier at the plenary, the speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila said he will sign the warrant of arrest on Tuesday.

“I have no choice now. On Tuesday when we resume to invoke the provision of section 89 of the constitution, you must remember that the summons of CBN was simply based on a motion to clarify a gap and to know where the problem, whereas on hand, bankers are saying that they don’t have sufficient new not to dispense to the commercial banks, on the other hand, the regulator, the CBN is saying that yes they do have enough note to dispense. So, somewhere in there lies the truth and it sought to look is what to do about it. How can we get these monies to the public. The president gave his approval based on what he was told. So, on Tuesday, this will follow the proper procedure and invoke or provision of section 89 to compel the presence of the CBN”, he said.