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No, Nigeria’s central bank will not shut down the banking system for elections

IN SHORT: With elections just days away, and amid a crippling shortage of local currency, an alarmist message making the rounds on WhatsApp and social media claims that the banking system will be shut down. This is false, the central bank said.

‘CBN plans to shut down financial transactions from Thursday, 23 February till Monday, 27 February 2023,’ reads the heading of a message circulating on WhatsApp in Nigeria.

The “special information” message has also been shared by different pages on Facebook.

The message advises Nigerians to stock up on supplies in their homes, as banking services will be unavailable during the election period.

Nigerians will vote for a new president and members of the national assembly on Friday, 25 February 2023

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regulates financial services in the country, including banking.

The message reads: “Anyhow you can get money between today and tomorrow, get and keep it. Also whatever transfer you want to do, do it between today and tomorrow. The information I’m hearing is that from Thursday, the bank network will go off till Sunday or Monday, so politicians will not be able to transfer money to anybody for votes. So buy enough food at home, and do your transfer now because the next five days will be difficult,” the broadcast read.

Message stamped as false

Central bank: Message is false

Quotes and broadcasts falsely attributed to authorities or influential people are common during elections. 

If the message is correct, banks already struggling to contain a currency crisis could face a run from worried customers. 

Osita Nwanisobi, the central bank’s spokesperson, said the message was false.

“It’s fake news,” Nwanisobi said in response to Africa Check’s question about the authenticity of the message.

Read our blog on disinformation trends during election season here.

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