IN SHORT: As Nigeria struggles with a shortage of cash after a swap of old banknotes with new, redesigned currency, a press release seemingly from the central bank says the exercise will be suspended until May. But the document is fake.
In October 2022, Nigeria’s central bank governor Godwin Emefiele announced that new redesigned naira banknotes – in the highest denominations of N200, N500 and N1,000 – would be introduced that December.
The aim was to replace dirty money in circulation, fight inflation, reduce counterfeiting and promote a cashless society.
But a crippling shortage of the new currency has sparked riots in some parts of Nigeria and landed the federal government in court.
In response, president Muhammadu Buhari announced on 16 February 2023 that the old N200 notes would remain in circulation until 10 April.
As the saga continued, Buhari’s wife Aisha Buhari posted what seemed to be a press release from the central bank on her verified Instagram and Facebook pages. It claimed that the president had ordered the central bank to allow all old currency to remain in circulation until 1 May.
The release carries the bank’s logo and the signature of its spokesperson, Osita Nwanisobi.
Due to the current and unpleasant situation happening in Nigeria, In line with Mr. president. After having a closed meeting with him on the 20th of February, 2023, Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN) has been directed to ONLY reissue and recirculate the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes and this is expected to circulate as legal tender for 70 days up to May 1, 2023. Members of the public should therefore continue to spend the old notes.
The first lady has since deleted the document from her social media accounts. But screenshots of her posts are now circulating on Facebook, including here, here, here, and here.
Has the central bank announced the continued circulation of the old N500 and N1,000 notes, in addition to the N200 notes? We checked.
‘Ignore this fake news’
In a 21 February statement, the central bank dismissed the document as a “FAKE PRESS RELEASE”.
The statement reads:
For the avoidance of doubt, the Central Bank of Nigeria reiterates that in line with the directives of Mr. President, only N200 old notes are to be reissued and to circulate concurrently with the new notes. Members of the public are therefore advised to ignore this fake news.
The bank also posted the document on its verified Twitter account, stamped “FAKE”.
PLEASE BE WARY OF FAKE NEWS! pic.twitter.com/EZc6ygua3u— Central Bank of Nigeria (@cenbank) February 21, 2023
“PLEASE BE WARY OF FAKE NEWS!” the bank tweeted in all caps.
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