By: Sam Doak
February 22 2023
This narrative stems from a falsified statement; only N200 notes are being reissued.
On February 20, a statement regarding Nigeria's currency was posted on the Instagram account of Aisha Buhari, Nigeria's First Lady. The statement, which was designed to appear as though drafted by an official at the Central Bank of Nigeria, reads, "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 post concludes with an appeal to journalists, claiming that "Media practitioners are advised to PLEASE spread out this helpful information to the public." Screenshots of Buhari's Instagram post were subsequently shared widely on other social media platforms.
Nigeria has been experiencing difficulties relating to its currency in recent weeks due to its decision to redesign its 1,000, 500, and 200 naira banknotes. While Nigerians were given until February 10 to deposit their old notes, limited supplies of the new ones have left many unable to withdraw cash. This has caused a significant amount of disruption in the country, which is set to head to the polls on February 25.
The statement shared on First Lady Aisha Buhari's Instagram account is false; the Central Bank of Nigeria has not been directed to reissue these banknotes. This has been clarified both by Buhari and the Central Bank.
The Central Bank released a statement reading, "The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria has been drawn to some fake and unauthorized messages quoting the CBN as having authorized the Deposit Money Banks to collect the old N500 and N1,000 Banknotes. For the avoidance of doubt, and in line with Mr. President's broadcast of February 16, 2023, the CBN has been directed to ONLY reissue and recirculate the old N200 banknotes and this is expected to circulate as legal tender for 60 days up to April 10, 2023. Members of the public should therefore disregard any message and/or information not formally released by the Central Bank of Nigeria on this subject."
In the days since this post appeared on Buhari's account, the First Lady has claimed her Instagram was compromised and the post was created by a "hacker." Buhari released a statement on the social media platform, stating, “It has come to my attention that a certain fake news was posted on my social media handle, Instagram which also directly connects to my Facebook page, earlier this morning. I have since directed that it should be deleted."
To date, the only denomination of banknote that has been reissued is the N200 note. Under current plans, these will now remain in circulation until April 10, 2023.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has not been directed to reissue N500 and N1000 banknotes ahead of general elections. Both the Central Bank and Aisha Buhari have confirmed that the information on her Instagram account is false. Buhari has claimed that the post was the actions of a "hacker." This information has therefore been marked as false.