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CBN suspends cheque-clearing over COVID-19

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Emefiele Godwin

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Monday suspended clearing of cheques until further notice.

The Director of Banking Services at CBN, Mr. Sam Okojere, who disclosed this in a circular to banks and Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), said the decision followed the government’s restriction of movement in Lagos Abuja and Ogun.

He added that the need to ensure hitch-free clearing and settlement activities was another factor taking into consideration by the apex bank before taking the decision.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Sunday ordered a total restriction of movement in the three cities in a bid to check further spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Nigeria currently has 111 confirmed cases of coronavirus after the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) discovered 14 new cases of the disease in Lagos and Abuja Wednesday night.

Okojere said: “Please recall that the first index case of COVlD-19 was recorded in Nigeria on February 27, 2020, and since that date, there has been some level of increase in the number of confirmed cases in the country.

“The President, through a nationwide broadcast yesterday (Sunday), announced a lockdown in Lagos and Ogun States and the Federal Capital Territory for two weeks in the interim, starting from 11:00 p.m. on March 30, 2020, as a means of combating the spread of the virus and ensure the safety of all Nigerians.

“In view of these recent developments and in furtherance to the bank’s effort to ensure hitch-free clearing and settlement activities, the Central Bank of Nigeria hereby suspended until further notice, the clearing of cheques instruments in the Nigerian Clearing System starting from March 31, 2020.

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“For the avoidance of doubt, no fresh cheque instrument will be allowed to pass through clearing system on March 31, 2020. Only the returned cheque would be treated on the said date.

“However, settlement activities for electronic instruments will continue to hold during this period of suspension. Please be guided accordingly.”

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