Nigeria central bank says old bank notes to remain legal tender

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s central bank said on Tuesday old bank notes that were due to be removed from circulation next month would now remain legal tender, ending months of uncertainty after an attempt earlier this year to remove them caused serious cash shortages.

The Supreme Court in March ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend until Dec. 31 the use of old 1,000, ($1.18) 500 and 200 naira notes, whose initial withdrawal from circulation became an election issue after it caused widespread hardship and anger.

The bank had defended the removal of the notes, saying new ones would be harder to counterfeit and that the process would also help control liquidity in an economy where most money is held outside banks.

On Tuesday, the CBN, which has had a new governor since September, said the old bank notes “will remain legal tender ad infinitum, even beyond the initial December 31, 2023 deadline”.

During the election campaign, President Bola Tinubu had opposed the removal of the old bank notes.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh, writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Gareth Jones)