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CBN Threatens To Sanction Banks Over Failure To Load ATMs With New Banknotes



The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned that it will penalise banks that fail to comply with its directive to dispense the newly redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 through their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

The warning was issued yesterday by the CBN Director, Currency Operations Department, Ahmed Umar, during a training session for state directors of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Abuja.

Also, in Lagos yesterday, the apex bank urged banks to comply with the directive to load their ATMs with the new notes to ensure that they circulate widely.

Umar explained that the purpose of the CBN directive was to implement the January 31 deadline for the withdrawal of old naira notes in circulation.

The apex bank had ordered banks to suspend dispensing the new currency notes over the counter, and to only make them available via ATMs.

Umar said: “We want to use this training session to pass a message that CBN has enough currency notes to go round the general public.

“We, CBN management, have mandated banks to stop putting old notes in their ATM machines. They should only put the new notes.

“And there is a serialisation of the policy that they can put either N500, N1,000 or N200 notes, whichever denomination they have or combination of any of those notes, they should just put new notes in their machines.”

He said: “We are going to monitor to ensure that the banks comply and if they don’t, we have a penalty for non-compliance.”

The CBN director further noted that in many countries across the world, it takes a few years to change a currency, adding that, “in our own case what we had was basically over 20 years of having the same design of note.

“Over that period, what it did to us was to create an avenue for some people to master the act of counterfeiting the note.

“In our own case, what we have is the minimum of 17 years or more for us to redesign our currency.

“If you notice the N1,000 note that was introduced in 2005, it took 17 years for us to redesign it; N500 and N200 notes were also redesigned after 21 years and 22 years, respectively.

“So, if currency notes stay too long in the system, there is a tendency that people who counterfeit make a lot of efforts to produce the same notes. So, that is why there is a need to change our notes regularly,” he added.

Umar further pointed out that the N500 and N1,000 notes constituted 99 per cent of the currency notes being targeted by counterfeiters.

He said: “It is simple logic; the effort you put to counterfeit N1,000 is the same effort you put to counterfeit N5.

“So, why will they waste their energy doing small notes; they always target the higher note, particularly N1,000, because of the values attached to it,” he explained.

Also speaking, the Director General, NOA, Garba Abari, said the partnership with the CBN was geared towards educating the agency’s staff to assist in enlightening Nigerians on the naira redesign policy.

Meanwhile, the CBN has urged banks to comply with the directive to load their ATMs across Nigeria with the new notes to ensure that the redesigned banknotes widely circulate.

CBN Lagos Branch Controller, Godfrey Koyor, made the call at a stakeholders’ sensitisation on the currency redesign at the popular Balogun market in Lagos.

He maintained that the January 31, 2023, deadline date for the retirement of the old notes in circulation remained sacrosanct.

Koyor said: “We are giving everyone the assurance that the new naira notes are available to everyone. We are distributing through the banking system. And as transactions take place, you are going to be having the new ones.

“So as people are giving out the old notes, they’ll be receiving the new notes. We have pushed a lot of the newly redesigned currency notes into circulation and it is going around,” he said.

On the unavailability of the new notes at the ATMs, Koyor said: “I am assuring you that if you go to the ATMs, you will get the new notes. The essence of giving the directive that the new naira notes should be dispensed through the ATM is so that it will be available to people during working hours and off working hours.

“So, whether it is banking hours or outside the banking hours, if you go to your ATMs, you will get the new naira notes. It is a directive that the apex bank has given to all deposit money banks to make the money available in the machines so that people can have access to it and we are supplying them with the new notes and they are making it available to the machines.

“Everyone should have the assurance that the new naira notes are available. We are printing; we are supplying it and we are distributing it. The process is ongoing and sooner or later everybody will have it.

“It is a directive coming from the apex and the banks are complying and we expect every bank to comply. You will not expect 100 per cent at the same time, but the CBN is supplying to the banks and the banks will be replacing them. There are implications for non-compliance from the bank.”

Speaking on calls for an extension of the deadline, he said “right now, the deadline is 31st of January and it is not changing. We haven’t changed the deadline. As I speak with you, the deadline remains sacrosanct and what we are asking the public and the banks to do is to surrender the old notes and take new ones.”

The central bank, in collaboration with the NOA and various market associations, yesterday commenced an aggressive enlightenment and public awareness campaign on the naira redesign project as well as the need to properly handle the naira notes. The initiative tagged, “Market Storm,” commenced in various markets in Gombe, Minna and Asaba, in the first phase, and will also hold in Kano, Ogun and Onitsha on Thursday. The exercise would be extended to other major cities across the country from next week.

“The essence is to continue to enlighten market people on why the naira redesign project was embarked upon, let Nigerians know that they should respect the naira and also encourage them to embrace alternative payment channels,” a central bank official had explained.

On October 26, 2022, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed the bank’s resolve to redesign, produce, and circulate new series of the N200, N500, and N1,000 denominations.

Emefiele had said the move would help to manage money supply, and tackle currency counterfeiting, and terrorism among others.

He had explained that while the circulation of the new banknotes would commence on December 15, 2022, the new and existing currencies shall remain legal tender and circulate together until January 31, 2023, when the existing currencies shall cease to be legal tender.

Emefiele had insisted that the January 31 deadline remained sacrosanct, adding that the 100 days provided for people to deposit existing banknotes in commercial banks was adequate.

President Muhammadu Buhari, had subsequently, on November 23, 2022, unveiled the redesigned banknotes during the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

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‘Zenith Bank Contributing To Our Sufferings”, Nigerians Fume Over Bank Decision To Shut Down Branches



By Augustine Akhilomen

…Say Accessing Bank App Has Been Difficult

Nigerians on social media came out strongly against the decision of Zenith Bank to shut down some branches across the country due to fear of a possible attack from customers.

Recall that Nigerians have been going through hardships in getting their hands on the new naira notes as the February 10 deadline approaches.

This has led to attacks on some banks in the state, while states like Edo, Oyo, Ogun and Ondo have witnessed protests that degenerated into riots

Some video clips on social media showed how the bank staff escaped from the attacked branches by scaling fences to escape mob attacks from customers

Some of the bank’s branches in the FCT and environs and other states on Tuesday, were under lock.

Meanwhile, some bank customers have taken to social media to lament their ordeal.

A customer identified as @Ellacious_berry said on Twitter that Zenith Bank was fully contributing to the suffering of the masses.

“Three days now, I cannot assess the mobile app. If the mobile app mistakenly opens, it won’t transfer, and their ATM card is not paying either. I am sure closing my account with @ZenithBank,’’ she said.

Another customer, identified as @ambi 255 on Twitter, said Zenith Bank Plc had failed woefully.

“I think I will be closing my account with them,’’ he said.

A customer identified as @IamSixFeetTall on Twitter said, “one of the managers in my office just closed his zenith account this morning.’’

@shamsuden -Its a big shame that Zenith bank has decided to shut some of their branches. To access my account has been difficult.

@Iamnaija We live in a country where nothing seems to be working well at all. From fuel scarcity to Naira swap. Now Zenith has just compounded my problems.

@bullyone At this stage, i av no option than to closed down all my accounts with Zenith.

@dummyB – I am still baffle that i cant withdraw money from my account with Zenith. This bank is a scam.

Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) had called for calm and understanding among bank customers.

A statement by Akin Morakinyo, the registrar, CIBN, said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and operators (the banks) were working assiduously to bring the situation under control.

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Access Bank Introduces The “Love Is More” Campaign For Valentine Season To Celebrate Its Customers



Access Bank customers are in for a treat this Valentine season, as the retail giant is offering several discounts and mouth-watering freebies on its retail products and services to celebrate customers in this season of love.

The Valentine season campaign, tagged “Love is More,” will run from February 1 through March 11, 2023.

Robert Giles, senior retail advisor, retail banking, Access Bank, told reporters at the campaign’s debut,

““Valentine season provides us with another opportunity to demonstrate our love and appreciation for our customers for the years of loyalty and support for the bank.

“We are using this opportunity to thank our customers for their commitment to Access Bank. We value our customers and non-customers who rely on our services and products to conduct seamless banking activities, and we wish everyone the best of this season.”

Commenting further on the campaign, Njideka Esomeju, Group Head, Consumer Banking, Access Bank, said, “In the spirit of the season of love, we have unveiled several amazing offers to appreciate our customers during this month of love. Our customers who sign up for the XclusivePlus annual plan this month of February will not only receive a 10GB of data to share great moments with loved ones but will also get a 10% discount off their total purchases on Konga.

“Small business owners (SMEs) who open a Diamond Business Advantage Account (DBA) and grow their balance to N1,000,000 (DBA Trader Lite and DBA Basic) or N5,000,000 (DBA Growing to Prestige) and perform at least 2 transactions on the AccessMore app before February 28 stand a chance to win a free business protection bundle, a gift box, or a one-month fee waiver.

“This season, when our women use their “W” branded debit card at Beacon Health Diagnostics, they will receive a 20% discount on cervical cancer screening. Ladies, you can get your “W” debit card today from any Access Bank branch close to you.

“Customers who transact five times every week this February on AccessMore or *901# will qualify to win a N500 top-up on *901# and N1000 worth of data on AccessMore. In addition, we will provide our customers with free vehicle registration when they acquire a brand-new or pre-owned vehicle from one of our registered dealers nationwide.

Our salary account holders with Access Bank are not left out, as they can access a bouquet of loan offers and enjoy a 5% interest rate reduction in the first month of the loan repayment.

“We are offering these and so much more to show how much we appreciate our customers’ consistent patronage.

To join the reward train, dial *901# or download and log onto the accessmore app to open a new account. You can also visit any Access Bank branch near you to reactivate your account, and then start transacting immediately to enjoy the Valentine season campaign benefits,” Njideka said.

Please click HERE to see more Valentine’s Day season offers from Access Bank.

Access Bank is a leading full-service financial institution operating through a network of more than 600 branches and service outlets, spanning three continents, 18 countries and 49+ million customers. The bank is committed to providing innovative and convenient banking solutions to its customers.

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ICPC Arrests Stanbic IBTC, FCMB Managers For Allegedly Hoarding CBN’s New Naira Notes



Nigeria’s anti corruption agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), in continuation of its clampdown at elements frustrating efforts in making the redesigned Naira notes available to members of the public has arrested an official of one of the new generation commercial banks, Stanbic IBTC Bank, for alleged sabotage.

According to a statement signed by Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, the ICPC spokesperson, the bank official, who is the Branch Service Head of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Deidei Branch in Abuja, was taken into custody for her deliberate refusal to upload cash into the branch’s Automated Teller Machines (ATM) even when the cash was available, and people were queuing at the ATMs.

She said, “When the ICPC monitoring team stormed the bank at about 1:30pm to ensure compliance, and demanded explanation as to why all the ATMs were not dispensing cash, it was informed by the branch’s Head of Operations that the bank just got delivery of the cash.

“However, facts available to the ICPC operatives indicated that the branch took delivery of the cash around 11:58am and either willfully or maliciously refused to feed the ATMs with the cash.

“Against this backdrop, the ICPC team compelled the bank to load the ATMs with the redesigned Naira notes and ensured that they were all dispensing before arresting the culprit.

“Investigations are still ongoing, and the Commission will take appropriate actions as soon they are concluded”.

In a related case, Ogugua said, the ICPC Compliance Team in Oshogbo has busted an FCMB in Osogbo, Osun State where some ATMs were loaded with cash with their wrappers un-removed, thus preventing the cash from being dispensed.

“The Team therefore directed that the wrappers be removed, and the cash loaded properly.

“However, when a follow-up visit was undertaken the following day to ascertain the level of compliance, the Team discovered that one of the ATMs was still loaded with the wrappers un-removed.

“The Operation Manager of the Bank was arrested and taken in for questioning.

“Similarly, seven Point of Sale (POS) operators as well as a security guard were arrested during the ongoing exercise in Osun State for charging exorbitant commissions for cash. Investigations however, revealed that they got the money from Filling Stations that collect new notes from fuel buyers, but they then resell the cash to the public at exorbitant rates.

“The arrested persons are helping the Commission with information to assist investigations and bust any syndicates involved in the hoarding or sales of the redesigned notes”, she stated.

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