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Nigeria central bank denies banknote policy change

A person holds a new 1000 Naira note as the Central Bank of Nigeria releases the notes to the public through the banks in Abuja, Nigeria, December 15, 2022. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has denied a rumour that it had relaxed its policy of withdrawing the old 500 and 1000 naira banknotes amid widespread anger and confusion over a shortage of new notes.

In line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s announcement on Thursday, the bank will only “reissue and recirculate the old N200 banknote,” which will be used as legal tender until 10 April this year, the statement said.

The shortage of new banknotes has triggered violent protests and raids on banks as frustrated Nigerians try to get their money.

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There were chaotic scenes outside the CBN office in Lagos on Friday as dozens of people tried to get in to deposit their old naira notes. A few could be seen attempting to climb over the fence into the premises.

The old 500 and 1000 naira notes can only be deposited at the CBN offices.

Observers have criticised the government for introducing the disruptive policy ahead of the 25 February general election.

Analysts say the policy, though poorly rolled out, had been targeted at politicians who had hoarded billions of naira to buy votes.

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