The quantity of dirty and unfit naira notes in circulation and scarcity of small denominations of N10, N20, N50 and N100 notes, is becoming a major concern to Nigerians, especially those engaged in commercial transactions.
These days, even over-the-counter and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) transactions are disbursing dirty and unfit notes, just as commercial banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) trade blames over who is responsible, directly or indirectly, for the situation.
More worrisome to banks’ customers is that ATMs have not only become outlets for these dirty and sometimes, unfit notes, but are also deliberately mixing them with few new notes and once dispensed, even the same bank do not accept them back when presented in the banking hall.
A customer of one of the top three banks in the country, who identified himself simply as Sampson, told The Guardian how he withdrew money across the counter and hurriedly left, but later discovered that two bundles of N500 notes were almost unfit.
“When I brought it back to them, they rejected the money and denied ever paying the money to me. I avoided creating a scene in the banking hall and could not push further because I was in a hurry to join a bus coming back to Lagos from Enugu,” he said.
Taofeek of Festac Town, Lagos, also told The Guardian that he went to deposit money in another top three bank, but the bulk teller rejected some notes and told him that if she collected them, the amount would be deducted from her salary.
“The notes were weak and some dirty, but the numbers are there and that was how I collected them, too, from others.
“In fact, one of my customers withdrew some of the notes in my very presence from the ATM and paid me. Why are they doing this?” he queried.
The Guardian’s poll of customers in 24 branches of 11 different banks, including the top five banks, across Lagos, showed that there are more of dirty notes and some near unfit ones than clean notes in many banking transactions these days.
Another bulk teller said that his boss has told staff that the CBN charges banks for the unfit notes when returned for replacement.
But spokesman of the apex bank spokesman, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, has consistently debunked this, saying banks have deliberately refused to sort the dirty and unfit notes and return them to CBN and instead choose to mix them up and when this happens, it will be sorted by the CBN and the banks charged as such.
“They are playing tricks. They will see unfit notes and re-issue them again, because they don’t want to make investments in sorting the money.