The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has indefinitely suspended the clearing of cheque instruments in the Nigerian clearing system.
The apex bank said this in a circular released on Monday to all Deposit Money Banks and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System.
The circular with reference number BKS/DIR/GEN/ClR/O7/002 was signed by the CBN Director, Banking Services Department, Sam Okojere.
Due to the lockdown issued by the President, Muhammadu Buhari in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory, the apex bank said in the circular that the directive the move to suspend clearing of cheque became imperative.
The directive to lockdown the aforementioned states came on the backdrop of the federal government’s resolve to check the increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.
As contained in the circular, the CBN stated that the suspension would commence from March 31, while also adding that no fresh cheque instrument would be allowed to pass through the clearing system on that date.
It said that only returned cheque would be treated on March 31.
The circular read in part: “Please recall that the first index case of COVlD-19 was recorded in Nigeria on 27th February, 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 on Sunday, announced a locked down in Lagos and Ogun States and the Federal Capital Territory for two weeks in the interim, starting from 11pm of March 30, 2020 as a means of combating the spread of the virus and to 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 suspends, until further notice, the clearing of cheques instruments in the Nigerian Clearing System starting from March 31, 2020.
“For the avoidance of doubt, no fresh cheque instrument will be allowed to pass through clearing system on March 31, 2020. Only returned cheque would be treated on the said date.”