Some mega-churches, schools, and retailers have established time limits for the collection of the old currencies before the Central Bank of Nigeria’s January 31 deadline for the phase-out of the old N1,000, N500, and N200 notes.
This occurred at the same time when several commercial banks were forced to shut down their ATMs in Lagos, Abuja, and other states across the nation due to the persistent lack of old naira notes.
Due to the CBN’s direction that lenders should only load the new notes into their ATMs and prohibit over-the-counter customer payments using the new currencies, Deposit Money Banks have been struggling with a lack of old bills.
However, amid long queues in banks across the country, findings by The journalist on Thursday indicated that a number of mega-churches, schools and retailers had stipulated earlier time limits for the collection of the old notes.
This, it was learnt, was aimed at saving the organizations from the burden and challenges associated with the exchange of the old naira notes for new ones.
A leading Pentecostal church, Deeper Christian Life Ministry, in a memo directed its church leaders to stop the collection of the old naira notes on January 29, 2023, about two days before the January 31 deadline set by the CBN.
The memo, a copy of which was obtained by news media was signed by the Deeper Christian Life Ministry Church Secretary, Pastor S.M. Afuwape.
The internal memo, titled, ‘lodgement of old naira notes’ read, “Calvary’s greetings to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is to inform you that the Central Bank of Nigeria deadline of 31st January 2023 on the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes in circulation is drawing near.
“The church will like to inform you to sensitize your members and the brethren to lodge all Tithes and Offerings collected in the Group on or before 29th January, 2023. Also, no old notes in the specified denominations above should be paid as offerings as from 29th January 2023. To this end, any old notes (in the prescribed denominations) brought to the headquarters which was not lodged in the bank will be paid for by the Group. Thanks for understanding and co-operation.”
Also, it further gathered that some provinces of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, had directed members to deposit old notes in their banks by January 26, about five days ahead of the CBN deadline.
This, it was said, would help to avoid a situation where members would have no choice but to use old notes as offerings and tithes in the church.
On a WhatsApp platform of pastors in one of the RCCG provinces in Ota, Ogun State, members were advised to deposit old notes in banks or Point of Sale agents before the January 31 deadline.
Deposit all of your old notes at your bank or a POS nearby by January 31, 2023, according to the warning. Never take them to church. The deadline for accepting old notes is January 26, 2023.
News organizations, however, were unable to confirm whether the document was truly issued by the RCCG.
Additionally, Sango Ota’s banks were crowded with clients struggling to deposit old notes at a time when ATMs and banks like FBN, Fidelity, and UBA were still issuing them a few days before the deadline.
Reacting to the development, a spokesman for the RCCG, Pastor Olaitan Olubiyi, said, “There is no official postponement regarding the use of new naira note. People should do what the government wants them to do. They should enable to take their old notes to the bank. We believe God will help the central bank because the new notes are not circulating outside but anything is possible before the January 31 deadline.
“We have not issued any statement but as much as possible, we believe everyone has been counseling their members on the old notes; not just about bringing it to church on Sundays, it is about ensuring our people do not suffer unnecessarily.”
Also, a Lagos-based Pentecostal church, New Covenant Mission, advised members to deposit old notes ahead of the CBN deadline.