Residents in Bayelsa State have expressed displeasure over the continuous refusal to accept the old 500 and 1000 naira notes by traders, artisans, shop owners, restaurants and tricycle operators despite the Supreme Court ruling that the old naira remains legal tender until the end of this year.
They also lamented the exorbitant charges being added on bills while paying for goods and services via MoniePoint POS machine especially in supermarkets, grocery stores and filling stations.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Acting Director, Public Communications Department, Isa Abdulmumin, had earlier said the old and new naira notes are now legal tenders and that Nigerians can spend and collect old notes.
Although the CBN is yet to issue an official statement in line with the supreme court ruling, most traders in Bayelsa especially those selling in the market are still rejecting it while the banks in the state continue to issue the old notes to their customers.
According to an official of Zenith Bank at Amarata branch in Yenagoa, who spoke to Leadership on condition of anonymity, they did not pay the old naira notes as at today being Friday because the customers they paid yesterday with the old 500 and 1000 notes returned it back because it was rejected and they could not use it to buy anything.
He said, “We have been paying the old 500 and 1000 naira notes over the counter because the Supreme Court ordered that we should be paying but the problem is that the same customers that we paid yesterday came back to return the money.
“They said their customers are rejecting the old naira notes and when they go to the market to buy something with it, the market traders both men and women were also rejecting it, that was why they brought it back. We had no option than to collect it back; since we paid them, we collected it back from them.
“For today, we didn’t pay because customers are not collecting the old naira notes. Even if you collect it, you can’t use it to buy something. I was informed that they want to protest in Bayelsa so that market traders and tricycle operators can start collecting it.”
Also, a legal practitioner and human right activist, Barr. Ebi Robert, while reacting to the situation said that the Bayelsa State government should have taken a stand on this currency issue, adding that a press statement asking traders and other persons to start accepting the money will go a long way to build confidence in the traders to accept the currency in the market.
“The Supreme Court has ruled that the old naira remains legal tender until the end of this year. Accordingly, banks have started issuing the currencies. But people in the state have refused accepting the money. Maybe, they are waiting for Hon. Justice Muhammadu Buhari, and Chief Judge Emefieli to make a statement first.
“While we wait for them to say something clearly, the state government has a role to play. If the state government says something on this matter, it will go a long way to help the poor masses”, Robert said.