The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has accused some commercial banks in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, of refusing to dispense the sum of N4.5 billion redesigned notes distributed to them.
The controller of the Rivers State branch of the apex bank, Maxwell Okafor, who led an enforcement team on the newly redesigned notes to some commercial banks and markets in Port Harcourt, said that between Thursday and Friday, the apex bank had disbursed about N4.5b new notes to commercial banks in the state and wondered why many customers were not getting them.
He expressed worry that some banks in Port Harcourt were frustrating the efforts of the CBN in implementing the disbursement of the new naira notes by hoarding it in their vaults.
“We have been monitoring the dispensing of the new naira note and the impression we had is not encouraging. We have visited some banks and one of them was not dispensing the new naira notes. Their ATM machines were not functioning, even as early as the time we came. We had it on good authority that the bank received money from the CBN. Some of these banks received money yesterday and the money is still in their vaults.
“In some of the banks, their ATMs are down. There is no explanation for their actions. The CBN has warned that there would be serious consequences for hoarding these new naira notes and giving it to special customers.
“We stopped dispensing old currencies since the new ones came out. There is no reason why the ATMs should not dispense money; and the money they collected is in their vaults. There is pressure from these banks to collect more money, so what did they do with the ones they collected? What did they do with the N2 .5bn and N2bn they collected?
“We are going to escalate this matter and consult with the management on the next line of action,” he said.
The CBN Director of Strategy, Emenike Chimele, also said there was no doubt that some banks were trying to frustrate what the apex bank is doing.